Miami Building Boom Leaves Cleaners Struggling

Custodian pay not keeping up with rising rent costs

November 5, 2019

Downtown Miami has undergone a recent growth spurt, with more than half of the city’s major office, residential, and retail buildings, many of them in skyscrapers, built in the last twenty years. This growth has led to an increased need for professional cleaners. The southern Florida region has the ninth-largest cleaning workforce in the country, with Miami’s custodial industry growing by 75% since 1998, the Miami Herald reports.

This building boom has brought in higher-wage tenants, along with higher rents, leaving cleaners and other low-wage workers struggling to live in the area where their services are greatly needed.

According to a new report from the University of California-Los Angeles’ Center for Neighborhood Knowledge, the median wage for contracted office cleaners in South Florida is approximately US$8.50 per hour. The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the median local wage at $10.89, a figure that includes full-time custodians and ones covered by living-wage statutes, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

While rents in the Miami area have grown by 24% between 2011 and 2017, custodians have not seen a similar raise in their income. As a result, 69% of contracted janitors in South Florida now find themselves rent burdened, meaning they pay more than 30% of their income in rent.

This disparity between rents and wages has placed the Miami metro area 380th out of 382 among all U.S. metro areas for custodial wages when cost of living is considered.


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