Worker shortage remains as travel season heats up

Seasonal businesses struggle to hire workers as Florida tourism climbs
Posted at 3:07 PM, May 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-10 15:35:06-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The warmer weather is here and more families are starting to look ahead to book a summer vacation.

Laura Reece is a travel agent and owner of Reece Worldwide Travel. Reece is noticing a surge in travelers with their sights set on Florida.

"Right now Florida is very popular," Reece said. "We're warm. It's sunny. We have beautiful beaches."

According to the U.S. Travel Association, about 72% of Americans said they're planning summer trips.

That's nearly double the amount of interest in summer travel compared to this time last year.

Reece said the demand has dwindled the number of deals available to stay at a beachfront hotel in the Sunshine State.

"Finding a hotel room on the beach in Florida is very difficult," Reece said. "That is true all the way in Destin, Palm Beach, Key West, Naples, everywhere. Rooms are ranging anywhere from $600 to $1,000 a night and up."

Even though the additional tourism dollars will boost the state's economy, many employers continue to face a problem that no one predicted –- a shortage in the number of workers available.

MORE: Lack of workers causes crisis at South Florida restaurants

The latest April jobs report shows far less jobs were created across the country than expected.

However, one area that did see job creation was in the entertainment and leisure sectors.

The challenge is filling the vacancies as seasonal businesses struggle to hire workers.

"There are more jobs than people know what to do with," Anthony Barber, owner of Troy's Barbeque in Palm Beach County, said.

Barber is preparing to open a third location in West Palm Beach in the coming weeks, but he's having a hard time filling the 20 positions needed to operate.

"We're probably looking at doing a signing bonus if someone stays on for more than 90 days," Barber said.

He's also trying to fill about two dozen open positions at his restaurant locations in Boynton Beach and Boca Raton to help manage the spike in customer traffic.

One contributing factor to the lack of job candidates applying for work stems from the fact that unemployment benefits often pay more than part-time jobs.

Millions of Americans are receiving about $600 per week, which equates to roughly $15 per hour.

The rate rivals the wage offered for seasonal work during the summer months.

Several states are now making changes to the amount of unemployment funds available.