Russia-Ukraine war likely to impact Jersey Shore summer workforce
Jersey Shore businesses were already holding their breath over whether or not they'd have enough help to keep operations running this summer. And now the Russia-Ukraine conflict is adding another obstacle that could result in another summer of limited hours and services at your favorite spots.
"It seems that a lot of J-1 visa students were coming from that Eastern Bloc," Diane Wieland, director of tourism for Cape May County, told New Jersey 101.5. "It's from one end of the tourism industry to the other that will be impacted."
Foreign college students from the area who had plans to come to the Garden State through a federal Summer Work Travel Program are now in a holding pattern. As of now, businesses and industry observers aren't counting on these students to make it here on time or at all for summer 2022.
"The Russia-Ukraine conflict is 100% affecting the students we are looking to hire," said Maria Mastoris, a spokesperson for Casino Pier and Breakwater Beach in Seaside Heights. "We usually hire a good amount from the Eastern European countries and due to this conflict, they are being held back now."
The pier and water park are still looking to hire about 100 foreign students for summer help. Mastoris said they've asked for more applicants from overseas because it's been so difficult getting domestic workers to apply.
Shore businesses have been counting on some type of labor reprieve in 2022. The coronavirus pandemic wiped out foreign help in 2020 and limited the program in 2021. Since the start of this year, they've been expecting more availability of these students for the summer ahead.
Denise Beckson, vice president of human resources for Morey's Piers in Wildwood, said Ukraine is not a "large sending country" for U.S. businesses that count on foreign-student help, and although Russia is typically a popular source of workers, the country hasn't been processing J-1 visas since last year.
But if the situation overseas were to escalate or expand to other countries, Beckson said, it could have an impact on their hiring process.
"We are carefully monitoring the situation to the best of our ability," Beckson said. "Our concern first and foremost is for stability and peace in the region."