But for years I have remarked on the tourism business, most notably at Wisconsin Dells, staffing the eateries and water parks with young people from the Former Soviet Bloc. That's delicious, given that by state law, school (and the public universities) cannot resume for the fall before Labor Day.
In the summer entertainment sector, there may be a connection between labor shortages and visa shortages. It's affecting itinerant carnivals.
In a typical summer, Alpine Amusement has a traveling staff of about 50 people.Used to be, experienced workers who had previously come into the country on the H-2B visa could return, without counting against the limit on visas. This year, they do. (Perhaps that's what's affecting local landscaping companies.) In Wisconsin, the eateries catering to the tourist trade face the same challenge.
The carnival operator crisscrosses Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana, where workers set up, run and take down more than 20 rides every week from May to October.
This summer, Alpine has a spartan crew working long hours. What was once a six-hour setup now takes two days. The carnival doesn't even put up half its rides because it doesn't have the manpower.
The state's restaurants are already struggling to fill openings, a problem that's only exacerbated by the summer season, said Susan Quam of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association.Thus, at the Dells, the youngsters are working their way through college. Plus polishing their English skills.
Employers say the high school and college students who used to take on these summer jobs now have other commitments, such as organized sports or summer internships.
The labor shortage is so severe, the Wisconsin Hotel & Lodging Association has created a task force to deal with the issue, said Trisha Pugal, the group's CEO and president.
Some resort areas, such as the Wisconsin Dells and Door County, have a workaround already in place: They have long hired international college students through the J-1 visa program, which is touted as a cultural exchange program.
Down East, well, this story got Instalanched, and it's not a parody. Maine Town Resorts To Hiring Americans As Visas Run Out.
The article describes some of the “creative ways to attract local labor” and they include things such as offering flexible hours and even… (gasp) higher wages. If your business is booming all summer to the degree that you can’t hire enough workers to meet the demand, then in a normal capitalist system the demand for labor would drive up the cost. Higher wages attract more and better workers… it’s really that simple. And if that enhanced compensation package is attracting more employees locally, why are you relying on the H-2B program to begin with?Put another way, is the argument about immigrant workers "doing jobs Americans won't do" incomplete: it's taking the work at lower wages?