At The Chicken or The Egg restaurant on Long Beach Island, co-owner Mark Cohen already has his small army of employees on the job. He only hired two new staff members this year but nearly 60 others came back from last summer.
Said Cohen, “What I find happens is they think they’re going to get a job. When the summer will be over they’ll say, it’s my last time here, I’ll see you when I’m a customer and then come spring, they’re like, ‘do you still have that job opening cause it’s just tough to find a job.’
Tim Wright, who works as a server at the restaurant, graduates from college in December. But he’s not counting on finding a full-time job right away. He expects a tough job market and predicts that he’ll be working at least one more summer after he graduates at The Chicken or The Egg.
Employees at the restaurant range in age from high school students to experienced adults. Cohen has seen an influx of a different kind of applicant in recent years, and the economy may be the reason. He says he’s noticed a flurry of older, more experienced applicants, saying he gets “more people who are just way too qualified for these positions.”
At a fudge shop, nursing student Kate Muha senses the competition. She says it’s hard for college students because they’re competing against job candidates with more work experience yet willing to take lower paying jobs.
She’s hopeful she’ll land a job at Country Kettle Fudge, but there are only 10 slots open . The store manager encourages past employees to come back every summer.
Meanwhile at the Beach Bar in Seaside Heights, the hiring process doesn’t start until May. But manager Brian Garofalo has just five or six new openings this year. He, too, is counting on last summer’s employees.
But that hasn’t stopped people from applying for jobs here. So far, more than 30 job seekers have filled out applications at the Beach Bar and Garofalo says he expects that number to grow over the next month. “We have seen an influx of applications filled out from year to year and the age demographic is vast,” said Garofalo.
In Point Pleasant Beach, there are about 800 job openings at Jenkinson’s Boardwalk. More than 1,000 people visited their two job fairs.
According to Executive Director Marilou Halvorsen, Jenkinson’s Boardwalk’s hires range from young teens to senior citizens, saying “having more senior employees is great, cause we are still open after the kids go back to school.”
More than 38,000 hospitality jobs were added to the state last summer and officials are hoping for the same this year.
Reporting from Long Beach Island, Lauren Wanko files this report.