By Jim Smith
HYANNIS, Mass. – The good news about the Irish economy has been bad news for many Cape Cod employers, according to a recent study by the Center for Policy Analysis at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.
Relying on surveys from businesses across the Cape and governmental statistics, the study concluded that Irish students, who have been a mainstay of the summer workforce on Cape Cod since the mid-1980s, are less likely to leave home now that Ireland’s unemployment rate has decreased from 12 percent in January 1996 to 4.5 percent in June 2000.
That shortage of Irish workers, combined with the low unemployment rate in Massachusetts and across the nation, has left many restaurants and hotels on the Cape scrambling to fill jobs.
The study noted that only 30.3 percent of Cape Cod’s seasonal employees are year-round residents. Most of the other summer workers are college students from around the country, while foreign workers on student or other temporary visas comprise 16.5 percent of the season workforce. The majority of those foreign students have been Irish in recent years.
The study, done at the request of the Cape Cod Commission, Barnstable County’s regional planning agency, stated that demand for seasonal workers is so great that 27 percent of employers surveys provide either housing or a housing subsidy for some of their employees.
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