Cape Cod

Labor Supply Issues Remain ‘Biggest Concern' for Cape Cod Businesses

Some businesses are streamlining operations or offering more wages to adapt to the labor issues ahead of what will likely be another busy summer season

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Memorial Day Weekend is often considered the unofficial start of summer — and this summer is set to be a big one for Cape Cod.

Vacation destinations continue to see a high demand from tourists, but staffing concerns linger for businesses on the Cape.

"Labor supply looks a little bit better this year, but we're still short of where we were in 2018, 2019," CEO of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce Paul Niedzwiecki said.

Businesses at Hampton Beach have been hiring for the summer and are ready for their busy season.

Niedzwiecki said that businesses have been getting creative as they face a smaller pool of workers, in part because of less workers coming in on J-1 and H-2B visas.

"And that's why you see restaurants that may have been open for seven days a week, only open six or restaurants that used to serve lunch and dinner may only serve dinner," Niedzwiecki said, who hopes a recently hired housing coordinator will help to place more international workers in housing that will allow them to work on the Cape.

Meanwhile, some places are turning to incentives, like higher wages, as they seek help.

"They are looking at the available workforce that we have here that are native workforce, which is looking at older workers, retired workers that might want to come back in and participate in the economy," he said. "And they're also trending much younger and looking at high school students."

Experts say shark season doesn't really start to peak until July.

The chamber says that issues with the workforce are related to the cost of living on Cape Cod.

"The land values are high, but the median wages, median wages are below the state average," Niedzwiecki said. "So you've got that affordability disconnect as it relates to housing."

That's an issue that Cape Cod native and general manager of QuarterDeck in Falmouth Dylan Rocha has seen firsthand.

"Ever since COVID, people are getting priced out," Rocha said. "People I grew up with 30 plus years in this town can't afford to live here anymore, so it is tough."

Rocha said his restaurant was fortunate to have enough workers, as they prepare for big crowds for the summer season.

"Over these next few weeks we will be scaling up in staff, for the encroaching summer," Rocha said. "In general we never really have too much trouble staffing. We have an influx of applications in right now."

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