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    H-2B visa: A program permitting employers to hire foreign workers temporarily and perform nonagricultural services or labor on a one-time, seasonal, peakload or intermittent basis. — Wikipedia

“Fill it up and check the oil.”

It was the most common order ever heard by a part-time pump-jockey in the 1960s.

By this time – early May – most high school kids wanted to make sure they had their summer jobs locked down.

It wasn’t that hard for those who wanted to work.

During my time at Labidee Standard by the Missouri River bridge in Chamberlain, I noted a number of high school girls working at the motel across the street, cleaning rooms and carrying laundry. Other friends were flipping burgers at the A&W or Dairy Queen or waiting tables at Al’s Oasis. Some worked construction or mowed lawns.

What I’m reading these days is that businesses can’t find enough summer help and many point to a shortage of foreign workers. The guest worker program through the federal Department of Labor provides H-2B visas for immigrants so that motels, food service, campground and other businesses that either open or are busier during the summer can find help.

With the state’s low unemployment, South Dakota business owners are challenged to fill their job openings.

What’s going on?

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, which studies and tracks employment trends, fewer teens are working at summer jobs. School schedules are one reason, and I see this when I take my grandchildren to the swimming pool in the summer. By mid-August, the pool is closing even though there is another month of warm days. Schools don’t wait until Labor Day to begin classes.

Teens in the 1990s accounted for 25 percent of food service workers in summer and 20 percent in retailing. That has dropped to 16 percent and 14 percent, according to the federal Bureau of Labor statistics. Immigrant workers and seniors like me have stepped in to fill the gap. Older folks are working longer and even when they retire from their careers, they often find lower-wage jobs for income.

There also is the crush of camps – football, basketball, volleyball or 4-H. It’s hard to hire a teen who wants a lot of time off in summer.

A South Dakota Department of Labor spokeswoman told me that teens who want a summer job can find one and I believe her. I see “help wanted” signs everywhere.

And then there is this, also from SHRM: “There isn’t as much urgency for teens to find jobs and earn money as with previous generations,” said Vicki Salemi, a careers expert.

Really? Why is that?

May 8, 2019