Businesses seeing shortage of summer workers


ST. JOSEPH, MI (CBS Newspath) – Summer job season is here, but it’s looking a little cloudy for businesses trying to fill positions. For positions like park maintenance and lifeguarding to serving ice cream, there’s just not a lot of applicants.

Everywhere there are help wanted signs in St. Joseph, Michigan. The city usually fills its positions by now, but it’s down five seasonal employees.

The Human Resources administrator of 30 years says there have been other hiring struggles in the past, but this year is the worst. “There were some challenges then but nothing like now, with everybody, seems to be looking for employees to hire. And I know the pandemic has probably brought a lot of that on, but it’s just unheard of really,” says Laurie Moore, HR Administrator for the City of St. Joseph.

Jill Adams with the Berrien County Parks Department says they’re setting records already for park attendance. Adams is expecting that trend to continue but she says there are still more people needed, that also need to be trained. “We are still short. We’re still looking for some staffing. We could use about two more lifeguards to fill out our team and our maintenance staff – we have challenges finding park maintenance this year,” Adams says.

Small businesses are also feeling the pressure. Kilwin’s owner, Janet Dykstra, says they have 25 employees that help them through the crazy summer months. Dykstra says they’re only at 16 employees so far. “I did hire three more candidates within the past week, thank you God. But we still need more people,” Dykstra says.

In a normal year, Dykstra says there’s lines out the door and around the corner for hours. If they can’t get enough summer employees, she says cutting business hours isn’t off the table. “But it is what it is. So you just do the best that you can do and just pray you get some real good employees on board,” adds Dykstra.

Everyone crews spoke with is hoping to fill all of their positions and get people trained before Memorial Day weekend.

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