Lack of Housing Cited as Top Barrier to Hiring Seasonal Workers

In a recent survey of local employers, many said they’re struggling to find seasonal workers. 

Eighty-five businesses from across the peninsula responded to the survey conducted by the Door County Economic Development Corporation (DCEDC) – enough to offer some valuable insight, according to Kelsey Fox, DCEDC’s director of communications and business development.

More than half of the businesses that responded were in the lodging (28.2%), restaurant (18.8%) or retail (15.3%) industries. As the pie chart shows, a majority of respondents said they were struggling to find enough employees, with more than a quarter flat out saying they wouldn’t have enough employees to make it through the season.

The biggest barrier cited to hiring seasonal workers was a lack of housing for seasonal employees (37.6%), followed by uncertainty about the arrival of J-1 visa workers (31.8%) and COVID-19 concerns (28.2%). 

About 500 international students normally work in Door County for the season through J-1 visas as part of the Summer Work Travel Program. Pandemic-related global travel restrictions prevented those students from arriving last year, and this year, it’s still uncertain how many will arrive and under what restrictions. 

Though the uncertainty of J-1 workers was cited as a barrier to hiring, the majority of the survey’s respondents said that college students make up the bulk of their seasonal workforce (50.6%), followed by area high school students (32.9%), then J-1 workers (28.2%).

About 14.1% of the survey respondents said they have no barriers at all to hiring seasonal workers, but 37.6% said they would not be able to operate as usual this season with the workforce available to them.

Related Organizations