Myrtle Beach asking visitors to ‘please pack a little patience’ as worker shortages lead to waits
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) – Myrtle Beach city leaders have a message for visitors – pack some patience.
Officials took to the city’s Facebook page Tuesday to stress that the Myrtle Beach area is currently experiencing a staffing shortage, as are other parts of the country.
“‘Now hiring and ‘help wanted’ signs are plentiful this spring, especially at many of the Grand Strand’s restaurants,” the Facebook post stated. “Even some fast food places are only operating their drive-through windows. They don’t have enough people to open their dining rooms.”
City staff stress wait times may be longer at local restaurants or shops, and people should be prepared.
“I think people are a little understaffed,” said flight attendant Mary Kester, who’s spending a layover in Myrtle Beach. “I’ve been seeing that all across the country that hotels, restaurants and bars have been a little slower.”
Kester has been a flight attendant traveling all over the country for the past two years. The last year of that, she’s seen the toll the pandemic’s taken on tourism destinations nationwide.
“It’s a little difficult being a flight attendant because it’s just constantly traveling and being in hotel rooms,” said Kester. “It takes a little longer to get where I need to be. Airports are different. Restaurants and bars are a little bit different.”
The city of Myrtle Beach acknowledged those differences in its Facebook post.
“We’re not out of the COVID woods yet,” said city spokesperson Mark Kruea. “Plan ahead, manage your expectations, understand there may be longer lines than usual, particularly at the restaurants here in town.”
Kruea said the city isn’t sure what all the factors are, but the lack of J1 students could be contributing to all the open positions.
He said they expect 3,000 - 4,000 J1 students every year, but the travel ban has kept most of those out of the workforce this year.
“I think the word is getting out that the jobs are available,” said Kruea. “There aren’t enough people to fill the jobs that are available at this point.”
Vivian Forrester and her husband drive down from upstate South Carolina every year to spend a week at the beach.
“I’ve learned over the years, enjoy life, enjoy today,” said Forrester. “If we don’t get to it, we’ll do it tomorrow. And if tomorrow doesn’t come, we won’t do it.”
They haven’t noticed anything moving too slowly yet, but she said she and her husband always pack their patience anyway.
A hotel manager told WMBF she’s had to cross-train her staff on several different positions until they can fill them, so having to learn those skills and manage the extra tasks is slowing down operations a bit.
As for creating more incentives to get people back to work, Kruea said the city does not have a stance on raising the minimum wage from $7.25. He said a lot of places are offering higher pay than that anyway, and still can’t find the help.
On Friday, Dan Ellzey, the executive director of the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce, released a statement saying that there are 85,000 available jobs in the state, but there are 116,000 people receiving unemployment benefits.
“That really does not make sense, and we have to get people to start looking for jobs,” Ellzey said in the statement.
On Sunday, DEW reinstated a requirement for claimants to submit two work searches per week to remain eligible for benefits.
In an effort to help boost the Grand Strand’s workforce, the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce has launched a series of promotional campaigns to target retirees, veterans, teachers, college students and high school students.
It is also working with Coastal Carolina University to recruit students and offer summer housing for students to choose to stay and work along the Grand Strand.
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