Great column (“Rick Scott’s confusing jobs message,” Jan. 15). But it’s even worse in three ways:
1) Orlando’s record tourism growth has occurred during a virtual disappearance of our construction industry and massive decline in manufacturing jobs, so that local politicians’ goals of growing non-tourism jobs instead resulted in a larger percentage of tourism jobs than at any time in the past 33 years (I have the latest data to show it).
2) The other large metro area in Florida, Miami, has also seen record growth in tourism equal to Orlando’s. Yet they don’t do it with theme parks at all. Miami has become the place to be (and to be seen), attracting people from all over the world who spends lots of money while they are doing it.
3) Although the wonderful sarcasm in your article may sound cynical to some, it actually is far too kind to an economic analyst like myself. Specifically, any tourism operation has a very strong economic interest in keeping the workers it its local labor market “barefoot and pregnant.” In most of the U.S., the labor force is the main asset, so you invest in educating and training residents. In contrast, Orlando theme parks, hoteliers, restaurants and others in the tourism industry do not view local labor as a primary asset or even as an asset at all. Why? Because they know that if local wages ever were allowed to rise above the national average, it would kill their industry. There are NO high-wage tourism areas in the world. Vegas, based on casinos designed to strip gambling addicts of their life savings, was supposed to be the exception, but that turned into a Nevada desert mirage. Tourism requires cheap labor that survives on tips. Los Angeles learned that and grew beyond dependence on tourism. Tourism must be a means to an end, not an end itself.
Dr. Mark D. Soskin, associate professor of economics, College of Business, University of Central Florida