Service economy jobs at odds with cost of living in Orlando area

Posted Friday, April 25, 2014 9:06 AM | Contributed by Jeff

There are a growing number of families living in hotels in the Central Florida tourist corridor because they can't afford anything else. The problem has created a backlash among the mostly mom-and-pop businesses, with some owners suing the county sheriff to force his deputies to evict guests who haven't paid or who have turned their rooms into semipermanent residences. It also shines a light on the gap among those who work and live in this county that sits in the shadow of Walt Disney World and the big-spending tourists who flock here.

Read more from AP via The Tampa Bay Times.

Saturday, April 26, 2014 12:44 PM
slithernoggin's avatar

Well, what I'm not understanding, then, is why an "arbitrary" level is bad only when it comes to employee wages?

A set minimum wage is no more "arbitrary" then taxes set by local, state and federal government, the costs set by vendors and by shipping companies, etc., all of which contribute to rising prices.


Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

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Saturday, April 26, 2014 1:10 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

I never said any other arbitrary costs weren't bad.

(and I'm not sure all of those are arbitrary)

All I've argued up to this point is that I think raising minimum wage doesn't really help many people and it has the potential to hurt way more than it helps.


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Saturday, April 26, 2014 2:12 PM

RCMAC said:

I'm going to weigh in on this and I hope I don't confuse myself, because a lot of conflicting thoughts run through my head on this subject.

First of all, I read that article on line about a day or two before it hit here, and I was shocked. When we were at WDW in February it never occurred to me that those happy, peppy people who waited on us everywhere might actually be homeless. However, I did stop to wonder how the 60,000 people who work there can possibly survive on the notoriously low wages that Disney pays them. I reckoned it must be awfully cheap to live there, and didn't give it a second thought.

Just want to address the bold point, since I have a bit more personal experience/knowledge of this subject.

The folks who are "homeless" (more typically/correctly living in the dilapidated, run down motels along 192) at Disney tend to be the 3rd shift folks, the Cast Members you don't see, can't say thank you to, and who most people don't give a second thought to. The other part of the majority are the foreign transplants in custodial (all the folks from Haiti that flocked here after the earthquake, for example, who also populate 3rd shift to a large extent). The day workers tend to, at worst, live in actual apartments/houses (even though some of the complexes are perfectly ripe for condemnation) and have a more "stable" living situation than the custodial/3rd shift folks.

But yes, the cost of living down here is not very helpful to the majority of the area's tourism workforce.

Last edited by maXairMike, Saturday, April 26, 2014 2:13 PM

Original BlueStreak64

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Saturday, April 26, 2014 2:43 PM
rollergator's avatar

Lord Gonchar said:

All I've argued up to this point is that I think raising minimum wage doesn't really help many people and it has the potential to hurt way more than it helps.

Historical evidence disagrees. Strongly. It does improve the economy generally in a way that little else does (although that one-time $300 for everyone check proved to be surprisingly effective, even to those who proposed it).

I'm not an economic progressive because it's the moral thing to do (wouldn't deny also having that motivation)...really more to the point, it grows the economy faster for everyone.

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Saturday, April 26, 2014 3:26 PM

Thanks, maXairMike, for that insight. In a way it makes the situation even sadder.

I wonder what separates the day workers from the night workers in terms of being able to secure permanent housing (no matter how ripe)? Wouldn't the crappy money be the same?
Maybe it's, simply, that refugees and foreigners have always had a harder time getting their foot in the door. Prejudices abound and stand in the way of someone getting a fair shake in both employment and housing.

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Saturday, April 26, 2014 4:53 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

rollergator said:

Historical evidence disagrees. Strongly.

Historical evidence is a whore.

"Historical evidence" is also a pretty vague claim.

It's also complex enough an issue that either of us could find studies that cite examples of our beliefs being correct.

As a matter of reality, I suspect the game has changed enough that the idea of a minimum wage to meet a certain standard of living in this time in economic history isn't feasible for those on the lowest end of the skills scale. So even if raising minimum wage was an answer in the past, I'm not sure it is now or in the future. We don't live in a vacuum. Things change.

As a matter of morality, I don't believe in taking from the ceiling to artificially raise the floor. Making business pay people more than their value to the business is a bizarre notion to me. Somebody has to compensate for that discrepancy and raising minimum wage puts the burden on everybody but the individual whose value to a business is so low in the first place. Nowhere in raising minimum wage do we suggest ways to actually make that person more valuable, we just suggest we pay them as if they were.

Step 1: Raise Minimum Wage

Step 2: ???

Step 3: Rainbows and Lollipops


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Saturday, April 26, 2014 5:31 PM

Please excuse the interruption and allow me to say,
I always so love it whenever you quote Leslie Gore!
Continue.

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Saturday, April 26, 2014 5:58 PM
Jeff's avatar

Orlando had a whole lot of government and aerospace work at one point too, though much of that is gone. There is a lot of technology work these days. If you're in my line of work, you won't be hungry. In any case, that's a different story.

Minimum wage was originally instituted in part to address outright exploitation. I might be totally disconnected, but I have a hard time understanding how people are being outright being exploited these days. The problem now is that minimum wage is connected to inflation. Inflation gets to be a problem when it gets out of sync with other currencies around the world, or wages don't keep up with it.

I think it's great that Disney is ready to push their hourly up 25%. That's a good thing, and I suspect it will also allow them to be more selective in who they hire because it will attract a larger applicant pool. Still, the market force at play is the one where people can't wait to work for the rat, and are apparently willing to do it for little money, and for years on end. That's the market reality.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Saturday, April 26, 2014 6:08 PM

It seems to me the person who makes the best Disney employee is either one half of a successful domestic partnership or maybe a retiree who is supplementing fixed income while getting out of the house everyday.

And by 'best' I mean the least stressed and most comfortable. Orlando has its issues in this regard, certainly, but I can't think of many cities where those that are working for minimum wage can find a decent place to live and support a family.

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Saturday, April 26, 2014 6:12 PM
Jeff's avatar

Yeah, my wife has talked about doing it at some point (though she's annoyed at the idea of having to remove her nose ring for work). Heck, if I retire here, I would do it to keep busy. There's a whole lot of work in the area that I can't imagine being primary income to anyone.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Saturday, April 26, 2014 7:26 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

And I think you guys have hit on the key to minimum wage jobs in the future - they're supplemental income. The error is in expecting one basically skilled person working 40 hours per week at minimum to maintain a certain level of quality of life.

If you bring minimum value to the table, you're going to have to compensate with hours worked to reach the level of quality of life that we seem to be talking here. (which I suspect is different than the numbers used to establish 'poverty level')

Just for reference, someone working 40 hours per week for 50 weeks a year at $7.25 an hour makes $14,500 annually. The figure for poverty for a single person in the US according to the Department of Health and Human Services is $11,670.

It's $23,850 for a family of four. Two adults working 50 hours a week for 50 weeks at $7.25 per hour will bring in $36,250 annually. I don't think that's unreasonable.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Saturday, April 26, 2014 7:26 PM
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Saturday, April 26, 2014 8:10 PM

Then the challenge comes in that no one (Disney in this case) will put 60,000 people to work for 50 hours a week, nor will they find 60,000 secondary family providers or retirees to work 30-40 hours for peanuts.

Maybe ten bucks an hour will do it.

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Saturday, April 26, 2014 8:16 PM
Jeff's avatar

Pretty sure he meant two people combined working 50 hours.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Saturday, April 26, 2014 8:59 PM

Math sucks.

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Saturday, April 26, 2014 10:48 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Jeff said:

Pretty sure he meant two people combined working 50 hours.

No, I meant two people each working 50 hours per week.

RCMAC said:

Then the challenge comes in that no one (Disney in this case) will put 60,000 people to work for 50 hours a week, nor will they find 60,000 secondary family providers or retirees to work 30-40 hours for peanuts.

Maybe ten bucks an hour will do it.

Then they'll be forced to pay more (which you noted). Funny how it's kind of self-correcting that way.


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Sunday, April 27, 2014 12:00 AM
ApolloAndy's avatar

Lord Gonchar said:

Two adults working 50 hours a week for 50 weeks at $7.25 per hour will bring in $36,250 annually. I don't think that's unreasonable.

Poverty line aside, you seriously think this is okay? Given that many people do not have access to quality education which in turn makes their opportunities to move upwards basically nil. Daycare alone is about half of that total annual take home where I live (2 kids).


Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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Sunday, April 27, 2014 12:21 AM
LostKause's avatar

RCMAC said:

As a last thought I'd like to add: Hey, Travis! Can I come to your pool? Oh, wait, never mind. You don't have one anymore...

I still have a pool. It's just not in-ground and heated anymore. But we use saltwater filtering instead of chlorine, and that makes your skin feel awesome! Also, we use some kind of strange chemical that floats on the top of the water and traps the sun's heat in, so it's like a heated pool, and the deck makes it kind of like an in-ground pool. Come on over.

Like I said before, I am WAY better off now, living in WV.


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Sunday, April 27, 2014 12:31 AM
LostKause's avatar

Lord Gonchar said:

If you bring minimum value to the table, you're going to have to compensate with hours worked to reach the level of quality of life that we seem to be talking here.

What about experience? Many employers don't pay for a new hire's experience, although I would argue that experience is just as important as skills that one learns in college or whatever.

But I know that Gonch will say that that experience doesn't matter because they can hire someone without any experience for the same amount of money with the same outcome, and I would disagree. With minimal experience in whatever kind of work, you get the least quality of work from your employees. Hiring someone with experience provides a higher quality of work, overall.

My current employer hired me with much higher pay because of my experience, fortunately.


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Sunday, April 27, 2014 1:22 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

ApolloAndy said:

Poverty line aside, you seriously think this is okay? Given that many people do not have access to quality education which in turn makes their opportunities to move upwards basically nil. Daycare alone is about half of that total annual take home where I live (2 kids).

Well, there's a couple of points there.

1. I do think that's ok.

2. Education isn't necessarily the answer...or at least the only answer. Or even the best answer. Developing and maintaining valuable skills is the answer. That doesn't always mean formal education. It could be anything really. I make nice side money because I taught myself to take photos, use photo shop and create and maintain a basic webpage. Previously, I made decent cash with musical skills I picked up along the way through life. For a short time I made crappy money (but extra money none the less) wrestling because I knew a lot about it, was fairly athletic, easy to teach and made a few good connections.

Lack of education isn't a dead end. Lack of valuable skills is. Motivation, creativity and drive can fix that as much as anything.

3. Then I guess you need to think outside the box or look to family and friends or whatever. Daycare only costs that much because people will pay it. Umm, don't have children you can't afford? I dunno. Again, it's a created situation. Interestingly, I was working a minimum wage job when we had our first child. I went to part time and leaned on some of those other skills so that we didn't have to deal with daycare. We got creative and pulled through.

LostKause said:

What about experience? Many employers don't pay for a new hire's experience, although I would argue that experience is just as important as skills that one learns in college or whatever.

I would too. I'd argue that it's more important.

What kind of crappy decisions must one make to not get paid for experience? Any examples?

I mean if you're talking burger flipper or floor sweeper, then no. There's no benefit to experience. "But I'm really good at using a broom!"

But I think in most scenarios, experience breeds skills which creates forward progress.

Remember this story from a few years back that popped up everywhere?

600,000 Manufacturing Jobs Unfilled

It's lack of experience and valuable skills that keep those positions unfilled. Education isn't filling those jobs. Time and experience is. Those jobs require valuable skills that not enough people have. (I suppose you could argue that training for these jobs is education in a sense, but I don't think that's the education Andy was alluding to)

No one is going to pay you decent money for skills that are not valuable. Nor should they.

But I know that Gonch will say that that experience doesn't matter because they can hire someone without any experience for the same amount of money with the same outcome, and I would disagree. With minimal experience in whatever kind of work, you get the least quality of work from your employees. Hiring someone with experience provides a higher quality of work, overall.

As you probably guessed already, you have me pegged totally wrong. Experience certainly matters in certain situations. (see above)

My current employer hired me with much higher pay because of my experience, fortunately.

You took the time to better your skill set and you found better opportunities because of it? Go figure. That's crazy talk. You should just be paid more because.

Seriously though, good for you. That's how it's supposed to work.


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Sunday, April 27, 2014 10:21 AM

Lord Gonchar said:

Two adults working 50 hours a week for 50 weeks at $7.25 per hour will bring in $36,250 annually. I don't think that's unreasonable.

Nor do I. However, most employers that offer hourly based pay try to avoid overtime. On top of that, employers are required to offer insurance to full time employees thanks to Obama Care or face a stiff penalty. In turn, many full time employees are now part time employees. One of my very good friend's wife was working 40 hours per week at Marsh/Main Street Market until she was cut from 40 hrs to 29 as many others were to avoid offering healthcare to them.

Another good example is my wife. The cost of daycare would make it almost pointless for her to work a low paying job. Besides, I don't want a stranger taking part in raising my son.

Note: I don't think that the health care penalty starts until next year, but I'm not sure. I have very little knowledge about that.

Last edited by Blackie, Sunday, April 27, 2014 10:23 AM
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