Tybee Island businesses struggling with employee shortage

Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 6:21 PM EDT
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TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - Many businesses on Tybee Island are still struggling from worker shortages.

In fact some are calling this the ‘new pandemic.’ It’s the peak season for the island and businesses rely on this time of year to earn their profits. However, some say they’re missing out by having to adjust store hours and even close on certain days of the week.

Vacationers are out and about on Tybee, but one business owner says the job pool is so low right now that having the staff to serve these customers is a huge challenge.

“There’s so much competition for good people,” said Vicki Hammons, owner of Lighthouse Pizza North and South and Bernie’s Oyster House.

She says the problem they’re facing isn’t pay disputes but just having fewer people working on the island this year.

“Our staff walks home at the end of the day with $20 plus an hour, $20 to $30 between their pay and their tips. The issues are a lot more complicated than just pay as far as we see.”

With this low recruitment comes having to adjust how business operates. Hammons says people are wanting to dine-in or get delivery, but they simply don’t have the staff to accommodate it.

“Our employees can do more with carry-out customers than if they’re waiting on tables. We just have to adjust as much as we can because there are a lot of people here.”

The Lighthouse Pizza North location has reduced hours now. Hammons says they’re only open for five hours instead of 10 and have had to close two days out of the week.

“Right this minute we are at, as our manager just told me, seven working in the stores.”

Seven employees between both pizza shops. Typically, Hammons says, they have about 40.

“You guys anticipate it being like this for the rest of the year even right,” asked WTOC.

“Probably so at this point because people who are looking for summer jobs found them by now.”

Hammons says come winter time, when the vacation season is over, it won’t be as hard to run the businesses with a small staff. But for now, Hammons says her employees are working overtime more often than not just trying to serve as many people as possible.

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