OCEAN CITY – As unemployment reaches record numbers and a variety of economic indicators paint a bleak picture, some are wondering what that will mean for the thousands of foreign workers that flock to Ocean City each year.
It has been said that the foreign workers who come to Ocean City each year do the jobs that others simply will not do, often working several jobs, grueling schedules and living in overcrowded apartments. Yet, the question that some people are asking is whether we will be hosting as many foreign workers since jobs have become so hard to come by in recent months.
Melanie Pursel, executive director of the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce, said though she expects the numbers of foreign workers to decrease a bit, the current state of the economy as well as the job market should not stop them for coming altogether.
“I can’t imagine that we’ll have as many as we’ve had in the past, which has been over 3,000 in recent years,” said Pursel, “but I will say that I’m unsure if they’ll be able to get that second or third job that may have been there in the past.”
Pursel said that for the foreign workers, the state-mandated groups that organize the seasonal workforce do not ever bring more kids to the area than what are needed and they work with area employers to get a feel for how many positions are available.
“We don’t want these kids to come all the way over here and end up walking the streets without jobs, said Pursel.
Madalaine How, who helps the students get accustomed to the area when they arrive in Ocean City, said she is ready to do her job, regardless of how many foreign workers come to Ocean City this year.
“It doesn’t matter whether there’s one or 5,000 of them, we will help them to the best of our ability, as we do each and every year,” said How.
Spokespeople did not return phone calls this week to talk about a concrete number in projections, but some local businesses, like Jolly Roger, who rely heavily on foreign help each year, said they will be hiring less people across the board.
“I anticipate hiring probably 30 to 35 percent less than what we did last year, and I also anticipate more people from this country needing to work those jobs that the foreign kids used to do,” said Steve Pastusak, general manager of Jolly Roger.