TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) – Florida’s tourism and hospitality industry employs 1.5 million people, but a new study from Florida State University suggests the industry is falling behind when it comes to wages.
Dr. Tarik Dogru’s first job was as a busboy in Turkey. He’s spent much of the last two years studying more than a decades worth of national wage data. His conclusion: Hospitality paychecks aren’t keeping pace with the rest of the economy.
“When overall wages in the economy goes up by one percent or $1, the hospitality wages only go up by point eight, or 0.81 cents,” Dogru said.
The PhD researcher says paying less in the short run makes for bigger profits.
“In the long run, it makes it difficult for them to retain and attract people,” he said.
What the study doesn’t take into account is tipping. That’s because keeping track of tips is near impossible. In cities like New York, Chicago or Seattle, attempts to phase out tipping have failed.
Jerry Parrish, the chief economist for the Florida Chamber, said hospitality jobs pay better in Florida than most other states.
“In leisure and hospitality, Florida workers make $1,800 more than the average worker in the US and they don’t pay state income tax here,” Parrish said.
However, hospitality jobs are usually temporary and often a first job.
Parrish also said two out of five people who start in hospitality end up with jobs making six figures, in part because of the people skills they learn.