TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Thanks to inflation, while wages themselves went up across the U.S. in every state, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports real hourly earnings, or how much Americans make compared to what things cost, decreased. Still, wages themselves did increase, including almost 9% in Florida.

The biggest single driver of inflation, as previously reported, remains fuel costs from gasoline and oil, putting the Consumer Price Index at its highest level since 1982.

The earnings report came out along with the most recent CPI, which showed the cost of all purchases and expenses, from housing to gas to groceries, increased by 7.9% in the past month. Coupled with the decrease in functional wages as a result of the CPI increase, labor costs for businesses are up and the extra pay for workers isn’t staying at the bank or in their wallets.

That translates to a $0.30 drop in real hourly earnings, per average worker in the U.S., or a 2.6% drop over the past year and 0.8% in just the past month. On average, Americans are earning $11.11 per hour, compared to $11.41 the year before.

Weekly, it’s a $9.07 drop, while the cost of goods, or what consumers buy, has gone up $20.83 per week since the February 2021. That said, the actual earnings, as far as before spending or taxes, went up $56.45 per week.

State-by-state, Florida saw the third highest wage growth in the country. The state’s workers got a collective 8.7% increase in wages from September 2020 to September 2021, the most recently available time period in the BLS’ earnings reports.

Only Hawaii and Nevada had bigger increases in their weekly wage rates, according to the BLS’ Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. In the Sunshine State, only two counties had wage decreases according to BLS, Hamilton and Gilchrist counties, and Jackson County had no wage changes at all.

In the Tampa Bay area, every county saw some increase, with the highest in Pasco and Manatee counties. Here’s how wages went up in the region.

Location% Wage Change
State of Florida8.7%
Citrus County7.4%
Hardee County3.3%
Hernando County8.1%
Highlands County6.5%
Hillsborough County6.3%
Manatee County9.7%
Pasco County9.2%
Pinellas County6.8%
Polk County6.8%
Sarasota County7.4%
(Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, QCEW)

While Tampa Bay had wage increases of at least 3.3%, depending on county, but rent prices also increased. Nationally, rent prices increased 47.7% in February. In Tampa alone, rent increased 10.87% in January. Mortgages rose 10.2% in the area. Data for February in the Tampa metro area is not yet available. At the same time, the state’s labor sector is seeing growth.

In a new release from the governor’s office, Florida announced a 3.5% state unemployment level, lower than the national average of 3.9%. Additionally, private sector employment had increased by 23,900 jobs in January, a 0.3% increase that month. Year-over-year, it was a 6.6% increase to 496,700 jobs filled.

“Florida’s January 2022 numbers and the U.S. Department of Labor’s updated data for 2021 demonstrate that Florida continues to have a robust economic climate where individual Floridians have opportunities to get ahead – even in the face of inflationary federal policies that are causing the price of virtually everything to spike,” said Governor Ron DeSantis in a statement.

Still, while more workers employed is an economic benefit, wages remain a concern amid the continued rise of inflation. Dollar to dollar, it is unclear if wages will increase enough to offset rising costs of living, as housing costs keep climbing, fuel costs have surged, and food at the grocery store remains on a price growth streak.

The ongoing economic pressure reduces the impact of a Floridians’ dollar, making workers have to stretch what they can pay for, without their wages matching costs in the state.

The rising costs remain a problem for workers just trying to make do, amid years of wage stagnation before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though Florida’s state employees could receive a minimum wage of $15 per hour this year due to budget negotiations, the federal wage is still at $7.25.

The BLS said the biggest three-price drivers were gasoline, food, and housing. Those factors remain the biggest concerns for affordability and value of the dollar.

All of Florida will have a $15 per hour wage by 2026, having hit $10 per hour in September thanks to a ballot measure in 2020, but the practical effect of the increased pay while inflation continues to surge is a topic up for debate among state leaders, workers, and business owners.