UP employers struggle to find workers for summer season

The Upper Peninsula is expecting a busy tourism season this summer, but many businesses are understaffed.
Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 5:42 PM EDT
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MUNISING & MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - As Upper Peninsula businesses anticipate a busy tourism season this summer, many are struggling to find employees.

Pictured Rocks Cruises in Munising is setting sail for another summer. However, manager John Madigan says since the pandemic began, it has been a challenge to keep the cruises and ticket booth fully staffed.

“Normally this time of year we get applications from people coming back from college, we get people from the high school, we get some retirees,” said Madigan. “But last year with COVID-19, it changed our operation.”

Madigan says the situation is improving this year, although between six and ten positions are still unfilled. He says Pictured Rocks Cruises is actively recruiting.

“We do everything we can do to make our place a good place to work and try to pay competitive wages,” Madigan said. “We hopefully will have enough to put our operations back on our normal operating schedule that we had in 2019.”

In Marquette, Big Boy Restaurant is short about 20 workers. However, owner Steve Whelan says his long-term employees have been great at carrying the extra load.

“A lot have been here since we opened 15 years ago,” he said. “They can pick up the slack because they’re really good.”

As the school year winds down, Whelan says more young people are slowly starting to apply. He’s offering incentives to get even more potential candidates in the door.

“For cooks and managers, I’m offering a $500 sign-on bonus,” said Whelan. “You get it after you’ve been here for 90 days. We’ve increased wages a little bit, too.”

According to Manpower, the employment service currently has a record high of 70 unfilled jobs across all industries.

“I can’t pinpoint one client that isn’t struggling as much as the other,” said recruiter Ashley McGrath.

McGrath says while the coronavirus is a big reason for the lack of workers, it isn’t the only factor.

“It has a lot to do with stimulus checks, and also the unemployment money and the lack of daycares,” she explained.

Manpower works with businesses to find and pre-screen job applicants.

“We take that stress away,” McGrath said. “I feel that’s very valuable to businesses because they are lacking employees right now, so they have to jump into the work force.”

To get in touch with a Manpower recruiter, email or call 906-226-2211. Visit the Manpower website for more information.

Pictured Rocks Cruises has application information available on Facebook. Big Boy job listings are available here.

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