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Old 09-06-2015, 07:36 AM
 
Location: Tampa Florida
124 posts, read 180,644 times
Reputation: 198

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Two years ago, the Sentinel unveiled a stark statistic: Central Florida had the lowest median wage of any major metro in America.
Lower than Detroit, Miami, Milwaukee, you name it.
We were the only community in America where the majority of jobs — yes, the majority — paid less than $30,000 a year.
Nearly 40 percent paid less than $25,000.
Every other region in the top 50 did better. Even communities that are smaller. Even those with lower costs of living.
This is Orlando's dirty little secret.
In the shadows of our opulent hotels and billion-dollar theme parks, we have bred a culture of poverty.
We advertise four-star hotels — but say little of the people who clean those hotel rooms and end up turning to food pantries to feed their families.



Two years ago, local leaders vowed to do better — which was good. But they have made such vows before.
So this Labor Day weekend, I decided to check the numbers.
Virtually nothing has changed.
We are still dead last on median wages ($29,781), according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Perhaps even more striking, according to the stats that Sentinel data-cruncher Scott Powers and I sorted: We're also No. 1 for jobs that pay $20,000 — with 25 percent of our jobs paying $20,220 or less.
These are the people who clean bathrooms, wait tables, run cash registers and do the other jobs needed to make our tourism economy hum.
"Visit Orlando," we tell the world.

Just don't ask too many questions about the working mom who fried up your chicken tenders and rang up your souvenirs.
I've come to accept that a certain segment of society simply doesn't care about this issue. I get their emails all the time. They maintain that people who want more money simply need to work harder, study more, make themselves invaluable.
They conveniently overlook that low wages are this community's turbine engine. No matter what an individual worker does to improve his or her personal lot in life, Central Florida needs the working poor to keep the lights on in the castle.
Just last year, Orlando hotels were so desperate for hotel housekeepers — who made around $19,000 — they offered signing bonuses to get them to take the low-wage jobs.
That's right, Orlando actually had to recruit more working poor.
This is an issue that taxes us all. Literally.


When wages are low, welfare rolls swell and our nonprofits are strained. When benefits are meager, our ER rooms overflow.
This is no longer the country it was 40 years ago. When my parents grew up, one parent could have a decent middle-class job and provide a house, education and retire with a pension.
Today, both parents can work — and still be eligible for public assistance. Forget owning a house, saving for college or socking away money to retire.
Look at the numbers here in Orlando. If two parents work in some of Central Florida's most common jobs, they might work in sales making $23,392 (the median salary for that job in Orlando) and food preparation, making $18,949.
That is Orlando's reality.
Those families are the ones Eric Gray serves every day. Gray is the executive director of the Community Food and Outreach Center on Michigan Street south of downtown Orlando.
Every day, the working poor — with an emphasis on "working" — come through his front door to help make ends meet.
Gray and his staff offer them cheap groceries, train them for better jobs, get them enrolled in education classes.
But he is sick and tired of it — not of helping, mind you, but of living in a community that seems content to live off the fruits of poverty.
"We have drunk the Kool-Aid that this is the happiest place on earth," Gray said. "Not for a lot of families that come in here in their theme-park uniforms because they can't make ends meet."
So on Monday — Labor Day — Gray is going to lead a march through downtown Orlando.
He doesn't know whether many others will join him. But with signs that say things such as "Step up 4 the Working Poor" and "One-third of Orlando earns less than $25,000," he will march.
Gray isn't demanding specific policies — not a hike in minimum wage, for instance, he said, "because that debate just sucks all the air out of the room."
Rather, he wants to raise awareness and get the leaders who convene task forces for things such as NBA arenas, mental health and even homelessness to convene one on the single issue that affects poverty more than anything else: our basic wages.
He is right.
The solutions aren't easy. We need to diversify our economy, quit offering incentives for low-wage jobs, improve our public transportation and ask companies that need bus lines for their work forces to help pay for them. We need to improve education, focus more on venture capital and help startup businesses thrive.
We have talked about these things before. Heck, I have written entire columns about these things before. And leaders have started to make efforts.
But, for the most part, Gray is right that this community seems content to wallow at the bottom of the nation's economic ladder.
The theme parks aren't evil. Disney, Universal, SeaWorld and all the hotels made this community what it is and do lots of good things.
But they also are what they are: low-wage juggernauts.
Some communities set a goal of being No. 1 in one thing or another.
On wages, Gray and I wonder whether this community can simply strive to be something other than dead last.
smaxwell@orlandosentinel.com

Last edited by spidac; 09-06-2015 at 07:37 AM.. Reason: Spelling
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Old 09-06-2015, 08:40 AM
 
26,589 posts, read 52,939,688 times
Reputation: 12963
People make bad choices and have to live with them. They have kids they can't afford. They move here with no savings and no marketable skills.

What can we do about it? Not much, unfortunately. You can't fix stupid.
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Old 09-06-2015, 08:52 AM
 
Location: NYC/Orlando
1,911 posts, read 3,410,456 times
Reputation: 1051
Quote:
Originally Posted by annerk View Post
People make bad choices and have to live with them. They have kids they can't afford. They move here with no savings and no marketable skills.

What can we do about it? Not much, unfortunately. You can't fix stupid.
So everyone who works a low-wage job is stupid?

The article points out that these jobs are compensated less than any other large metro. How can they expect to improve their lives if they can't make a liveable wage?
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Old 09-06-2015, 09:30 AM
 
19,237 posts, read 11,133,504 times
Reputation: 8386
Some people want their SLAVES-- they do not want the poor to succeed or be just like them, this is not just an economic problem but social one. When big business can't make more money for themselves by paying the American worker less, they take the jobs overseas or hire illegals who would be more than happy to work for 1000 times what they would earn in their own country.
When you have a rich family hit payday- because of some new invention or buy the right stock at the right time-- do they give their housekeepers a HUGE raise- NO! When we see gas price at the initial oil barrel price go down, we demand they lower the price at the pump- but when the oil company is making that BIG money -do they pay their workers more NO-
When any company that is making huge profits pass it on tho their workers let me know but now there now a handful- The money goes to their peers- the investors.
We cant even pay the same pay to women.

It is a CLASS issue- slaves need to remain our slaves-- Ok Ok they say-we will pay them so they can eat- but they do NOT "DESERVE" more. That is how the arrogant think.
People are in love with money and status - they could care less about anyone but themselves and think only the few should reach the top- but there is the exception, poor geniuses are welcomed -provided they PROVE their worth.

Things used to be a little more fair, the American dream idea was sent out for all to work towards achieving it. A chicken in every pot! In my opinion- foreign business has gotten deep in our veins and they are used to what they pay workers overseas- nothing. The wealthy corporations have bought into that thinking -so eventually we will be a third world country.
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Old 09-06-2015, 10:32 AM
 
1,422 posts, read 1,722,085 times
Reputation: 1147
As long as the Orlando area has a tourist industry, there are always going to be a lot of low-wage jobs unless robots start operating rides or selling cotton candy. What the Orlando area can do though is continue growing in other more powerful industries such as medicine (which is already growing, especially with areas like Medical City) and aerospace.

With that being said, I think it's also safe to say that a huge percentage of low-wage workers in the Orlando area/metro reside in Osceola county. Not saying the other counties don't feel a sting from low-wage jobs, but Osceola is where most of the impact can be seen, especially since Osceola county has a much less diverse economic environment compared to Orange and Seminole counties. Osceola county also has a higher percentage of people with little education compared to other counties in the Orlando metro.
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Old 09-06-2015, 11:32 AM
 
26,589 posts, read 52,939,688 times
Reputation: 12963
Quote:
Originally Posted by brinkofsunshine View Post
So everyone who works a low-wage job is stupid?

The article points out that these jobs are compensated less than any other large metro. How can they expect to improve their lives if they can't make a liveable wage?
The smart ones have figured it out and no longer work those jobs.

I know some people who took retail and server jobs as a safety net when the economy tanked and they were laid off, but they continued to seek employment in their regular field, took classes and learned new skills, volunteered in a capacity that their skill set would remain current, and are now employed in well paying jobs.

There are a ton of classes that are FREE or very low cost. There are also student loans and grants available. There is no reason to pay someone to fog a mirror, which is about all some "employees" seem to be capable of.

Last edited by annerk; 09-06-2015 at 11:45 AM..
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Old 09-06-2015, 11:44 AM
 
26,589 posts, read 52,939,688 times
Reputation: 12963
Quote:
Originally Posted by LordHomunculus View Post
As long as the Orlando area has a tourist industry, there are always going to be a lot of low-wage jobs unless robots start operating rides or selling cotton candy. What the Orlando area can do though is continue growing in other more powerful industries such as medicine (which is already growing, especially with areas like Medical City) and aerospace.
Agree completely. There are a lot more good and high paying jobs in this area then most people give it credit for. I live in Clermont. Average housing cost in 2014 was $168,419. In my neighborhood (taking out retirees and second homes) about half of the residents work in STEM jobs.

Quote:
With that being said, I think it's also safe to say that a huge percentage of low-wage workers in the Orlando area/metro reside in Osceola county. Not saying the other counties don't feel a sting from low-wage jobs, but Osceola is where most of the impact can be seen, especially since Osceola county has a much less diverse economic environment compared to Orange and Seminole counties. Osceola county also has a higher percentage of people with little education compared to other counties in the Orlando metro.
I would agree with this. And back to my "you can't fix stupid" it also has the highest number of people who came from other areas thinking life would be one long vacation and ended up with six people living in a motel room as well as a continuing population growth due to people having babies they can't afford to care for.

Some might say that it's everyone's duty to care for the children popping out of these clown car wombs. I say that anyone asking for assistance on the back of the taxpayer should be temporarily sterilized until they are able to support themselves and any additional children.

I also think that law enforcement needs to begin enforcing the law and turning illegals over to INS. I'm not sure what part of the word illegal is so hard for people to understand.
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Old 09-07-2015, 05:52 AM
 
20,203 posts, read 28,238,032 times
Reputation: 18001
Quote:
Originally Posted by spidac View Post
Two years ago, the Sentinel unveiled a stark statistic: Central Florida had the lowest median wage of any major metro in America.
Lower than Detroit, Miami, Milwaukee, you name it.
We were the only community in America where the majority of jobs — yes, the majority — paid less than $30,000 a year.
Nearly 40 percent paid less than $25,000.
Every other region in the top 50 did better. Even communities that are smaller. Even those with lower costs of living.
And the clueless Central Florida leadership continues to strive largely toward increasing/expanding the service based economy while simultaneously making overtures towards STEM companies to expand into the area. Which STEM company CEO/Board of Directors in their right mind is going to think that's a good decision with our pool of poorly educated/low skill workforce and insufficient infrastructure?
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Old 09-07-2015, 06:29 AM
 
8,760 posts, read 9,923,546 times
Reputation: 4509
Quote:
Originally Posted by brinkofsunshine View Post
So everyone who works a low-wage job is stupid?

The article points out that these jobs are compensated less than any other large metro. How can they expect to improve their lives if they can't make a liveable wage?
Btink, these are service jobs because Orlando is built around the service and tourism industry. Darden has its HQ here, Disney, universal etc. The nature of the work is low wage and there is not a lot than can be done to change that.

The city. County and state need to make a concerted effort to diversify Orlando away from recreational service jobs into STEM. Brevard country has managed to become a hub of defense, communications and aerospace companies paying decent wages. Orlando should try to move in a similar direction, they already have Lockheed Martin. Also, as others have pointed out, medical city can hold a lot of promise as well.
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Old 09-07-2015, 06:32 AM
 
8,760 posts, read 9,923,546 times
Reputation: 4509
Quote:
Originally Posted by kyle19125 View Post
And the clueless Central Florida leadership continues to strive largely toward increasing/expanding the service based economy while simultaneously making overtures towards STEM companies to expand into the area. Which STEM company CEO/Board of Directors in their right mind is going to think that's a good decision with our pool of poorly educated/low skill workforce and insufficient infrastructure?
Leverage medical city.... make Orlando a recreational and medical tourism destination.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Nona_Medical_City
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