Summer may be nearly here, but with many seasonal jobs on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, the uncertainty for the workers who fill those jobs is stressful.
Brendan Hallihan says he’s now competing for any available summer jobs with thousands of other people in Worcester, Massachusetts, who have found themselves suddenly unemployed. He said it likely means he won't get a job this summer.
“It’s tough, it’s not easy at all. It’s a lot of picking and choosing what you want to buy and everything, so you’ve just got to be wise with your money,” Hallihan said.
The city has budgeted for seasonal positions, everything ranging from lawn maintenance and shrub trimming at Hope Cemetery to lifeguarding at the city’s pools and beaches.
But although they’ve posted the jobs and even begun the hiring process, it isn't yet filling those positions.
“We have qualified all of those openings and stated to all of our staff that it is COVID-19-dependent on where we are with the phased opening of the commonwealth,” Robert Antonelli Jr., assistant commissioner of Worcester’s Department of Public Works, said at a city council finance committee meeting this week.
Nonprofits like the Green Island Neighborhood Center are trying to fill the void, working with Youth Works to hire young people from June through August.
“We’re still going to have an opportunity for some of those workers to come and work for us, but a lot of programs aren’t doing their youth summer programs or their camps or things like that,” said Green Island Neighborhood Center Program Director Elizabeth Lopez.
Lopez said she hopes other community groups will step up to provide employment opportunities with safe measures in place.
“Some of these young people are helping their families to be able to make ends meet,” said Lopez, “being able to buy groceries, even buying their own things so their parents don’t have that responsibility on them. So I think it’s going to be difficult all around.”
The earliest the city would be able to fill those seasonal jobs, like lifeguards at city beaches, would be during Phase 2 of the governor’s reopening plan.