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Many Disney World Employees Can't Afford Disney World, Live in Cars

| by Michael Allen

If you haven't been to Disney World near Orlando, Fla., lately, it will cost you, your wife and three kids about $1,500 for a four-day pass.

However, that's a price that many Disney World employees can't afford.

According to data from the U.S. Labor Department, the Orlando-area has a 18.4 percent poverty rate, notes Bloomberg News.

It's not because people aren't working, but rather their wages are not keeping up with the cost of living in Central Florida.

The Orlando Sentinel reported in 2013 that 37 percent of jobs in Orlando pay less than $25,000 per year. Almost 53 percent of people who rent homes in Orlando have to cough up 35 percent of their pay for housing. About 44,000 retail-sales jobs in the area paid more than $25,000 in 2007, but now those same positions pay less.

While Florida doesn't have a state income tax, it's minimum wage is $7.93. Attempts to raise Florida's minimum wage have been defeated by Republican politicians.

This week Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) expressed his opposition to raising the state's minimum wage.

"When I hear a politician say that we have to raise the minimum wage so working families can make ends meet, I cringe, because I know that statement is a lie," Gov. Scott told The Tampa Bay Times. "Even if we did raise the minimum wage, working families will still not be able to make ends meet on those jobs. We need good jobs that lead to good careers for our families and that's what I am focused on."

Mike Stapleton, president of an union that represents bus drivers in Orlando, told Bloomberg News, “Very large numbers of Disney employees live in motels. Some of them live in cars. And Disney knows this.”

Disney spokeswoman Jacquee Wahler claims the company's latest pay plan included “significant wage increases."

Disney, which pocketed $2.2 billion in its second quarter this year, has a minimum wage of $10 per hour.

“There are hundreds of thousands of people here who are just the embodiment of the whole ‘paycheck-away-from-disaster’ kind of thing,” stated Greg Higgerson, of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. “Not because they made poor choices, but because they’re scratching the earth just to get by.”

Sources: Bloomberg News, Orlando Sentinel, The Tampa Bay Times (Image Credit: CaryMelC)