Just shy of a five-year private sector job growth streak, Florida may see the trend reversed if a proposed 19.6 percent workers’ compensation rate increase occurs, the Florida Chamber of Commerce announced recently in Tallahassee.
The National Council on Compensation Insurance, serving as the industry provider of workers’ comp analysis and rates, recommended that the nearly one-fifth rate increase take effect in the state Oct. 1 following two recent Florida Supreme Court rulings that judged as unconstitutional both state attorney fee regulations and the current 104-week ceiling for temporary total disability.
If the filing is approved, Florida, with 59 consecutive months of steady growth, will experience the highest premiums in the southeastern U.S. The Florida Chamber of Commerce has developed a task force to engage lawmakers in dialogue and work toward an equitable solution.
“Small businesses create two of every three jobs in Florida, and a workers’ comp rate increase as significant as this could force these businesses to choose between paying higher workers’ comp rates and hiring new employees,” Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, said. “A 19.6 percent rate increase will cause uncertainty among job creators and may even force a decline in Florida’s job growth.”
The Chamber has initiated meetings on local and regional as well as state levels since last year in preparation for the possibility, evaluating its potential impact on Florida’s businesses. Additionally, it has spearheaded efforts to lower workers’ comp rates since 2003.