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Resorts and theme parks face worker shortage as they open for summer

Jersey Shore businesses struggling to hire
Jersey Shore businesses struggling to hire 01:16

Resort communities across the U.S. face an acute shortage of summer workers as concerns about transmitting COVID-19 linger and many Americans continue to receive expanded unemployment benefits. 

Oceanside restaurants, amusement parks and other operations say there are too few job applicants for temporary positions that remain open. For example, Morey's Piers and Beachfront Water Parks, a 70-year-old amusement park in Wildwood, New Jersey, is still looking to fill 1,500 jobs. The park's rides open Saturday.

"We have 1,500 jobs and positions like ride operator, lifeguard, food and beverage, games, parking," human resources vice president Denise Beckson told CBS correspondent Matt Petrillo.

Morey's is offering a premium to workers willing to operate its rides. Wages start at $15 an hour for seasonal employees — a rate that is well above New Jersey's minimum wage of $11.10 an hour.  

The amusement park is competing with would-be job applicants' extended unemployment benefits, continued COVID-19 safety concerns and child care responsibilities that have been thrust upon parents with remote schooling.

Small business welcomes Disneyland reopening 01:51

The Cape May County Chamber of Commerce said businesses across the state have faced challenges hiring summer workers. 

"We really do have an employment crisis going on in Cape May County," said Vicki Clark, president of the Cape May County Chamber of Commerce. 

Other resort towns face similar labor challenges as they prepare for an influx of tourists during the summer season. The island of Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts typically relies on foreign workers on temporary visas to staff its businesses, but has struggled to draw summer workers from abroad, according to a report from the Vineyard Gazette.

Labor shortages are also hindering restaurants across the country as many prepare to reopen or expand dining capacity. Some establishments are using incentives such as rewarding candidates just for showing up to interviews, and offering bonuses. 

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