Think about it. Every policy decision has a price to pay. Think about that next time you get into a political debate.
Why Filling Summer Jobs Is Tougher and Tougher - WSJ.com
But even as the U.S. economy becomes increasingly reliant on foreign workers, employers are having to look further afield to find them. And the collapse of the Senate immigration bill last month means that pool operators and other summer employers may face more problems next year.
Among the casualties when the bill collapsed was the expansion of a visa program called H-2B, which allows employers to recruit 66,000 foreigners a year to fill jobs for up to six months. The bill would have lifted the cap to 100,000 and would also have made permanent an exemption that now allows in thousands more temporary workers but is set to expire on Sept. 30.LEFT: Sladjana Savic, left, and Sanala Ivosevic, recent graduates of a Serbian cosmetology school, work at a Washington-area country club on H-2B visas.
H-2B has become so popular among resort operators, race tracks, casinos, landscapers and others that this summer's supply of visas ran out in March. Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, where the seafood industry depends on Mexican H-2B workers to pick the meat from Chesapeake Bay crabs for canning, has vowed to attach an expansion of the program to other legislation.
But in the meantime, the story of how the U.S. came to rely so heavily on foreigners to staff its swimming pools and other seasonal venues says a lot about the changing nature of the U.S. labor force. Stephen Lavery, president of Virginia-based High Sierra Pools Inc., says that he hired neighborhood kids as lifeguards when he began his pool-management company 18 years ago, but that the labor source soon began to dry up. College students began taking internships that would buff their post-graduation résumés, or sought jobs they could continue during the school year. High-school students signed up for summer courses or exotic travel to build up their college applications.