Seward businesses face worker shortage

Posted: Sunday, August 12, 2001

SEWARD -- Seward businesses are struggling to fill a worker void, especially as college students head back to school.

For some businesses, employment difficulties started before the first cruise ship ever arrived.

Al McCarty, general manager of the Breeze Inn, said he's been short-staffed the whole season. A year-round staff of 25 triples to 75 employees in the summer to take care of the hotel, restaurant, gift shops and bar at the small boat harbor.

"We're probably nine people short right now," McCarty said. "August is going to be a nightmare."

Seasonal employees don't have the same sense of loyalty to the job, McCarty said.

"The weather gets nice so they'll decide to go on a two-day hike on Resurrection River Trail," McCarty said. "They quit because there's other places they can go to work when they get back."

Mollie Burton, director of the local job service office, said there are plenty of job openings posted in her office. "It's mostly openings for seasonal jobs in the summer," she said.

"There's a need for cashiers everywhere," Burton said.

"If people just want to mow lawns for a couple of days, they can," she said. "Whoever comes in, goes to work."

This time of the year there's no excuse for being idle, but things change once the tourist industry winds down.

"In the winter, unemployment can be up to 12 percent," Burton said. "But in the summer, it's about 1 percent. We have a labor shortage now and that's all there is to it."

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