Maryland’s Ocean City looking to hire thousands

While some businesses have been dealing with a struggle to pay their employees during the pandemic, Ocean City, Maryland, businesses are struggling to find enough employees for the summer season.

Many of the businesses in the tourist town rely on foreign students who come to the U.S. on J-1 work visas each summer.

“We do usually see several thousand international students that come in, the J-1 students that come in with the work program each season; and unfortunately, there’s going to be a minute amount of them this year that had visas prior to the embassies shutting down,” said Nancy Schwendeman, interim director of the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce.

The city is hosting a virtual and in-person job fair this week, hoping to hire people from within the U.S. to fill some of those positions.

The in-person job fair will be held in the pavilion from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday at Sturgis Park in Snow Hill.

“We’re asking everyone to abide by social distancing, wear a mask and all of the protocols that need to be abided by,” said Schwendeman, who hopes that they will be able to match people who are unemployed during the pandemic with businesses that need help.

“We have a large number of businesses that will be there looking to hire staff, so we’re hoping that a lot of people will want to show up and want to work,” she said.

Job seekers do not have to be locals, either. In some cases, housing is available for the season.

“Fortunately, a lot of businesses that normally would house J-1 students, or help them with housing, they are also in a position to help seasonal workers that want to come in from other areas to help them possibly get housing,” she said.

Sunsations store at 123rd Street in Ocean City
Sunsations, a chain that sells beach gear and clothing, has signs up at most of its Ocean City, Maryland, locations offering free housing for workers. (WTOP/Colleen Kelleher)

While the city is hoping to fill enough positions to keep things moving smoothly, Schwendeman said that it is possible if you visit Ocean City this summer, you may experience slightly longer waits for food and assistance in stores. So, pack a little patience.

“We just can ask, and we have signs posted all over, and have been pushing out a campaign to say please be kind,” she said, “Patience is a virtue as they always say.”

More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

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