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Seasonal worker shortage threatens small businesses

Yahoo Finance Live anchors discuss the seasonal worker shortage.

Video Transcript

BRIAN CHEUNG: Well, summertime is just around the corner, but the surge of seasonal help is apparently nowhere to be found. And Akiko, interesting story in the "Wall Street Journal" kind of about all of this. But what's kind of interesting to me is, as we talk about Memorial Day travel with Steve just now, people are going to get out there. In fact, maybe the volume at, let's say, the Jersey Shore Nantucket might be higher than what we saw last year. But if the places, the restaurants, and ice cream parlors at those establishments can't find the workers, people will be queuing up for a long time when they go out for their summer vacations.

AKIKO FUJITA: Yeah, I mean, we all still remember those Help Wanted signs that we saw last year, right, in so many of these small towns. Interesting. I mean, there's a few good anecdotes in here because-- and I think it's worth noting because it points to where some of those shortages are. In Phoenix, less than half of the public pools opening because they can't hire enough people. I mean, those are kind of key spots, right?

I'm thinking back to that conversation we had with Instawork last week, why those that kind of platform which hires on a day by day basis, they're getting demand there, too, because these workers are saying, we're going to find these-- employers are saying, we need to find a way to find workers by any means.

BRIAN CHEUNG: Yeah, and the big solution here, it really seems like, could be immigration. And we were talking about visas earlier with Karan over at Google. But I think when it comes to specifically a lot of these seasonal towns, you do notice, during pre-pandemic times, a lot of the workers that would be serving you your soft serve ice cream or grilling a burger out on the shore, were people who actually are visiting the United States on summer, and then using those wages there to kind of fund their travels throughout the United States. A lot of those people were on J1 visas, so very different than the H1 visa that we were talking about with Karan.

But obviously, you have the-- COVID is very much still an issue. The free flow of travelers is a little bit better internationally now than it was in 2021, but still not all that easy. And you wonder if the combination of that, with the labor shortage that we're already experiencing domestically, is going to make it really difficult for some of those businesses to meet the demand that they're used to, but also might have to experience at an even higher volume this year.

AKIKO FUJITA: Yeah, and we've heard those calls for increased immigration grow louder. And we were talking about the tech sector earlier, but we've also heard from others in the national security space, for example, who are saying, we need more STEM workers. And then, in this case, we saw that note from Goldman Sachs out last week that said, essentially, that, is the answer to filling all these spots in a tight labor market immigration?

BRIAN CHEUNG: Yeah, and I think that the immigration side of things, again, with the pandemic, that's not necessarily something that the United States can do because if the country that you're traveling from still has restrictions, then you can't really do anything about that.

But again, it's just kind of a reminder that, as people have maybe already experienced this weekend, if you're going out to the shore or you're going out to a restaurant in a very summer seasonal town, just have a little bit more patience, because I think something that we've been experiencing through the pandemic is just restaurants that are a little bit understaffed. Yes, it might take a little bit extra time, but don't lash out at the waiter, you know? Just wait a little bit.

AKIKO FUJITA: I feel like I'm--

BRIAN CHEUNG: They're doing their best.

AKIKO FUJITA: --being spoken to right now.

BRIAN CHEUNG: No, no, not you specifically.

AKIKO FUJITA: And I am very impatient.

BRIAN CHEUNG: No, I just--

AKIKO FUJITA: I am very impatient.

BRIAN CHEUNG: In general, I mean, you heard about a lot of people want to leave the industry because they just-- all the dealing with all these patrons that are just screaming. But that's not Akiko and I. Akiko and I are lovely, lovely people when we're at the restaurants.