Soaring Costs Force Workers Out of Key West

Few remain to service the island's tourists and millionaires
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Feb 10, 2008 5:58 PM CST
Graffiti is written on a wall where the Harbor House development, a luxury gated community, is under construction in Key West, Fla., on Friday, Sept. 14, 2007. The development will attract an upscale...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – High Key West housing costs are sparking an exodus of residents and leaving the island's tourists with too few people to serve them, the Los Angeles Times reports. Some 2,000 workers have fled in the past 7 years, a crushing blow to a county that houses 75,000 residents but serves 2.25 million overnight tourists each year.

Monroe county stopped construction of hotels 10 years ago to guard the environment, but triggered a wave of lodging upgrades and high-end housing. Now the county has a swelling 38% vacancy rate and finds it hard to trim with wages 9% lower than the mainland average. “Whether it’s the teaching profession or the hotel business, we have a shortage of warm bodies," a tour company owner said.