Many low-wage workers in Florida will be getting a little bit more in their pay checks in the new year thanks to an increase in the minimum wage that took effect Jan. 1.
Florida's minimum wage is now $7.79 per hour, up 12 cents from last year's $7.67, while the rate for tipped employees is $4.77 hourly, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
By law, the agency, which is responsible for the state's economic, workforce and community development efforts, is required to recalculate the minimum rate each year based on the federal Consumer Price Index.
The automatic rate adjustment takes into consideration increases in the price of goods and in so doing protects its purchasing power, economic analysts say.
Florida is one of the few states that automatically "index" minimum wage rates each year.
This means it links value of the minimum wage to inflation so that as prices rise, so does the amount that low-wage workers must be paid, wrote David Cooper, an economic analyst at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington D.C.
"For a low-wage worker, these increases are a vital protection against rising costs," added Cooper, in his Dec. 26 blog post about the minimum rate increases taking effect in 10 states in 2013.
On average, the increase is expected to boost annual incomes of minimum wage workers by roughly $370 a year, EPI data released in December showed. And about 210,000 low-wage earners of Florida's 7.49 million estimated workers are expected to benefit.
In 2012, jobs in the retail, accommodation and food services and health care and social assistance industries accounted for 58 percent of Florida's minimum wage workers, according to a recent Florida International University Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy study.