There's a sobering story on Bloomberg Business Week's website today, pointing out that poverty has grown to nearly 20 percent in Orlando – according to the story, our city has "the lowest median pay among the 50 most-populous American metropolitan areas."
According to the piece, Orlando's service-based economy is part of the problem – Orlando is the most-visited city in the United States, leisure and hospitality jobs account for 20 percent of the economy, and Walt Disney World is our largest employer. And, according to the story, 40 percent of the jobs available here pay less than $25,000 per year.
Part of the problem, the story suggests, is that Florida's minimum wage is still extremely low. While some cities have the power to increase minimum wages, in Florida, it's up to the state, which has set the minimum at $7.93. While Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando have both voluntarily increased starting pay for their workers to $10 and $9 per hour, respectively, the story says that many employees for theme parks are living in motels or in their cars. Studies have shown that in Orlando and Osceola counties it really would take a $15.87 per hour to comfortably rent a one-bedroom apartment.
Fast food employees and workers for low-paying companies like Walmart have been rallying over the past year to demand living wages (see stories here and here), but repeatedly, their actions are met with public scorn.
You can read the full Bloomberg story here.
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