- Outer Banks businesses are facing a shortage of workers, especially international student workers.
- The pandemic has made the crisis even worse.
- As a result of the labor crisis, local businesses are struggling to maintain operations.
Outer Banks businesses often hire diverse student-employees coming from different countries such as Mongolia, China, Russia, Poland, Belarus, Lithuania, Serbia, Macedonia, and Moldova.
Jamie Banjak, head officer of the Outer Banks international student outreach program, reported that an estimated 1,800 foreign workers, including college students, came in summer 2019. However, continued international travel bans in many countries are not helping to supply the needed local workforce.
Aside from travel restrictions, working international students also may face housing issues once they arrive in Outer Banks as real estate and residential places become more expensive.
“I talk to people every day where they’ve had an employee that had to move from the area because the house that we’re running was sold, there was nothing available, they really didn’t have a choice,” Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce Richard Hess said.
Outer Banks employers said that the pandemic has worsened the problem in the workforce for several industries, which makes finding and hiring workers more difficult.
Some of the businesses that have been hit hard by the crisis are Donuts4You in Kitty Hawk, Dirty Dick’s Crab House in Nags Head, among other struggling Outer Banks stalls.
Currently, different industries have been facing challenges on how to log more operation hours despite minimal manpower.
Some employers have even cut the usual six-day workweek to only five days to lessen the impact of the crisis on its employees and the company’s profitability.
“A lot of them, they just cut their hours because they’re not open as they used to be because they don’t have enough workers,” Patrick Skultety, a business owner, said.
Meanwhile, local business owners call for their state leaders to respond quickly in addressing the problem, which may implicate economic stability and growth.
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