How Four Big Election Day Ballot Measures Affect Jobs

In Tuesday’s election, voters had their say on ballot measures in several states that will affect the jobs of millions of workers. Specifically, they voted to approve a statewide $15 minimum wage in Florida and to establish a statewide program for paid family and medical leave in Colorado. And, while California still has millions of ballots left to count, it appears as though voters have approved gig drivers’ independent-contractor status and rejected a move to restore affirmative action. 

Here are details about each of the four ballot measures and how they affect the job market:

1. Florida Approves a $15 Minimum Wage

Voters in Florida approved an amendment to gradually increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour as follows:

  • $10 on September 30, 2021.
  • $11 on September 30, 2022.
  • $12 on September 30, 2023.
  • $13 on September 30, 2024.
  • $14 on September 30, 2025.
  • $15 on September 30, 2026.

Starting Sept. 30, 2027, increases to Florida’s minimum wage will be based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers. 

Efforts to put similar measures on the ballot in Ohio and Idaho failed to obtain enough signatures. But the resounding result in Florida—60.8% in favor versus 39.2% against with 98% of precincts reporting—will likely encourage supporters of minimum wage increases to work harder to bring such measures to a vote in future. 

Notably, Florida approved the minimum wage increase while also voting for Republican Donald Trump as president. More generally, raising the minimum wage has been popular when put to a vote recently, even in red states.

Florida Amendment 2: Raise Minimum Wage

Result Votes Percentage
YES 6,371,082 60.8%
NO 4,107,932 39.2%
* 98% of precincts reporting

2. Colorado Approves Paid Family Leave

Voters in Colorado passed a ballot measure to establish a statewide program for paid family and medical leave, to be funded through a payroll tax on employers and employees. The measure will allow eligible workers to take 12 weeks of paid leave. An additional four weeks of leave will be allowed for pregnancy or childbirth-related complications.

Workers who have earned at least $2,500 with their employer and been on the job for at least 180 days will be eligible for the job-protected paid-leave benefits. Businesses with fewer than 10 employees will be exempt from the employer tax premium. Companies will be allowed to opt out of the state program and create their own family leave programs instead, provided they meet certain criteria. 

Only three states—California, New Jersey and Rhode Island—currently require paid family leave. But the success of Colorado’s family leave proposition will likely encourage other states to pursue similar programs in future elections. 

Colorado Proposition 118: Paid Medical and Family Leave Initiative

Result Votes Percentage
YES 1,681,622 57.18%
NO 1,259,091 42.82%
* 89% of precincts reporting

3. California Approves Independent-Contractor Model for App-Based Drivers 

Voters in California passed a ballot measure (Proposition 22) to exempt drivers for app-based transportation and delivery companies from being classified as employees. California Assembly Bill 5 (AB5), which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, requires companies that hire independent contractors to reclassify them as employees, with a few exceptions. But Tuesday’s vote in favor of Proposition 22 will now exempt companies like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Instacart and Postmates. 

The decision is a major win for gig economy companies and makes it more likely that the gig worker employment model will survive. While the measure disqualifies app-based gig drivers from benefits typically reserved for employees, it does entitle drivers to some new benefits, like minimum earnings and vehicle insurance. 

California Proposition 22: App-Based Drivers as Contractors, Not Employees

Result Votes Percentage
YES 6,872,166 58.4%
NO 4,894,448 41.6%
* 100% of precincts reporting

4. California Rejects Measure Restoring Affirmative Action

Voters in California rejected the repeal of a measure that makes it unlawful for the state and local governments to discriminate against or grant preferential treatment to people based on race, ethnicity, national origin or sex. The repeal would have cleared the way for the state to restore race- and sex-based affirmative action in government agencies and public universities. 

Ten states in the US have banned affirmative action: California (1996), Texas (1996), Washington (1998), Florida (1999), Michigan (2006), Nebraska (2008), Arizona (2010), New Hampshire (2012), Oklahoma (2012), and, most recently, Idaho (2020). California’s decision against affirmative action could make efforts to repeal such bans in other states less likely and boost efforts in other states to introduce similar bans. 

California Proposition 16: End Diversity Ban

Result Votes Percentage
YES 5,145,629 43.99%
NO 6,550,859 56.01%
* 100% of precincts reporting

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Julia Pollak

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Julia Pollak is a labor economist at ZipRecruiter. She provides insights and analysis on current labor market trends and the future of work.

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