Small businesses, especially those in resort areas, face a labor crisis as the lowest unemployment rate in the U.S. in 10 years smacks up against fewer visas issued to temporary foreign workers. In a nutshell – not enough willing workers to fill available jobs.
Congress recently lifted the number of workers that can obtain H-2B visas but the move came late and most of that relief will not arrive on U.S. shores until late June. Many small-business owners are pushing back opening dates or finding themselves needing to boost overtime for existing staff.
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When Caps Are Reached Hiring Is Over
The H-2B program allows 66,000 non-agricultural workers to enter the U.S. each year. The allocations are further divided into two 33,000 worker slots for each 6-month period beginning April 1 and Oct. 1.
When or even if the caps are reached varies from year to year. Given the problems mentioned above, this year the cap was reached early. A continuing resolution from Congress boosted the number of H-2B visas for fiscal 2017 to 129,547.
Not Everyone Is A Fan
Despite the demonstrated need for more workers in seasonal positions, pro-labor advocates charge that many employers side-step U.S. workers with rigid job requirements in favor of foreign workers who are less likely to complain or try to unionize.
The boost to the number of foreign workers for fiscal 2017, these people say, will only make things worse for U.S. citizens seeking employment. Furthermore, they say it isn’t just small Mom and Pop businesses using the H-2B program to bypass U.S. workers. Mid-sized and large companies also take advantage; pro-labor forces say.
Companies That Hire
Most of the publicity surrounding companies displacing American workers with foreign-born employees has to do with H-1B visas for highly skilled workers in IT and other technical areas. It happens in the H-2B or low skilled areas as well.
According to a fact sheet put out by the AFL-CIO, in addition to Donald Trump’s properties, other major corporate H-2B users include Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. (NYSE:HLTC), Marriott International (NYSE:MARD) subsidiary Starwood Hotels, Pinnacle Gaming and ServiceMaster Global Holdings Inc. (NYSE:SERVC) subsidiary TruGreen Landcare. Other companies benefit from the H-2B program indirectly by employing subcontractors that obtain H-2B certification for their workers.
In their defense, many of these large corporations say they cannot find and employ American workers to fill many of these low wage jobs.