2009 summer job outlook is dim here, but the Island's a fun place to hang out
Martha's Vineyard has always been a summer destination for young people due to its relaxed atmosphere and abundance of seasonal jobs. This year, however, young people may find the search more frustrating.
In late spring, as the weather grows warmer, it has been customary for college kids to flock to Island restaurants and retail shops looking for work to finance a summer of fun in the sun. But, now, returning staff or older (often overqualified) employees are taking the positions that high school and college kids once filled.
A Times reporter evaluated the number of help wanted ads in the newspaper, comparing job listings in June 2009 to June 2008. This year's help wanted classifieds shrank to nearly half of 2008's, and mainly featured jobs in the service industry.
One way that young people have been able to evaluate the seasonal job landscape and affordable summer housing is by visiting the Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce (MVCC). The Chamber's One Stop Job Shop & Housing program helps many workers find jobs and housing by listing available positions and housing with corresponding contact information for inquiries.
MVCC executive director Nancy Gardella said that the program helps to match renters, employers and employees, and there are still many choices available for summer rentals. "We are finding that there are definitely housing options available, whether they be rooms, apartments, houses, et cetera," she said. But, "What is very short is our jobs list." (As of Monday, there were 19 jobs listings, compared to 58 housing options.)
Ms. Gardella said that the 2009 job pool is considerably smaller than previous summers, but more young people are using the Job Shop to try to find work. She said she suspects employers are being more careful about their hiring practices this season, focusing on affordability and what needs to be done to benefit their businesses.
Such is the case for Jackie Korell, owner of the Katama General Store. This year is the first year that Ms. Korell worked with the Chamber to place a help wanted listing for her business. She said she has never had as many applicants as this year, and most of this season's hopefuls have been college kids.
Ms. Korell said the General Store is a staple for many residents in the Katama area, and she is dedicated to finding staff that shares her passion for hospitality. Though in years past she hired younger kids, this year she tried to find a balance between good service for her customers and a better work ethic from her employees. "In the past, I've had people who were a lot younger, and I'm trying to steer away from that, because I need people who have an understanding of how a business operates," she said.