Grand Strand businesses struggling to hire this summer

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Many restaurants, hotels, and stores along the Grand Strand are having a hard time hiring this summer and this could impact the sort of service they offer.

“This is probably the worst summer I’ve experienced in 30 years on the beach,” said Mike Robertson, manager at Damon’s Grill in Myrtle Beach. More than 3,000 international students come to the Grand Strand to work each summer, and many local businesses rely on this influx for summer employment. However, Robertson says finding employees has been especially hard this summer. “I literally prayed for someone to walk through the door to work in the kitchen.”

Stephen Greene with the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce says this is a widespread problem for businesses along the Grand Strand this year. According to Robertson, “Everyone just says ‘Good luck’. I’ve heard one chef say he’ll hire anyone who walks through the front door.”

Greene, the President of the Myrtle Beach Area Hospitality Association, says the number of J-1 students has stayed the same this summer, but the number of businesses hiring has increased.  “Our labor pool has stayed the same although more and more people are trying to pull out of that labor pool,” said Greene. Robertson adds, “The competition this year is extremely tough. A lot of places that are opening up are hiring hundreds of employees. It’s hard to compete.”

Shorter staff often means longer wait times for customers and longer hours for employees. “It doesn’t allow you to have as many workers as you need to have the service level where you’d like it to be,” said Greene. “The managers have to step in more and do more hourly work. The more they work the grumpier they get,” said Robertson.

In fact, he says he’s already started coming up with a plan for next year. “We will probably go to a recruiter now for 2018, and see if we can sign up and have them work directly for us.”