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The $150,000 Housekeeper: Wage Inflation Kicks Into Second Gear

The mass wealth migration to Florida from New York and other high-tax states has created record demand for household staff in elite Florida enclaves–especially Palm Beach. Demand for butlers (now called ‘hospitality managers’ or ‘estate managers’) as well as nannies, chefs, drivers and personal security has surged, according to staffing agencies.

It’s the shortage of housekeepers, however, that has created the biggest mess for wealthy homeowners. Many of the wealthy emigres to Florida bought big homes and now need people to clean them. Hotels, resorts and businesses are also vying for cleaning staff. The result: Typical pay for housekeepers has rocketed from about $25 an hour in 2020 to $45 or $50 an hour today, according to some agencies.

Bidding wars between wealthy homeowners have become common. Staffing agencies are posting ‘Help Wanted’ ads all over the web and throughout West Palm Beach. Clients are growing frustrated.

“At first they’re in shock, and they say, ‘No way I’m paying that,'” Berube said. “It’s even uncomfortable for me to give them the numbers. But when they try to hire someone for less, with less experience, they almost always come back to us and say, ‘I learned my lesson. We are willing to pay for the experience.'”

Berube said the housekeepers for the wealthy need highly specific skills–from how to move quietly and unnoticed throughout the house, to how to carefully clean antiques, flatware and fine art and how to properly wash and press fine linens.

“There are specific tools and skills you need to work in fine homes,” she said.

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Zero Hedge

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