406 Forum: Employee Shortage
Bugaboo Café recently closed its doors due to a lack of employees. Other local business—Alberto’s, Blue Moon, Choppers, for example—have truncated their hours for the same reason.
With so much growth and development occurring in Big Sky, why do you think these restaurants are experiencing an employee shortage?
Joel Tennyson, Big Sky, Montana
“I don’t think there’s a shortage of employees; I think there’s a shortage of housing for employees. There are plenty of people who want to be here but have no affordable place to live. The people behind all the development know this is an issue but it’s not one that’s going to be solved overnight.”
Jordan Clay, Four Corners, Montana
“I think there are great opportunities here. It’s a great place to live—housing is just really hard to find. I have full-time employment and drive 45 minutes each direction five days a week. I’ve been looking for nearly a month and haven’t been able to find anything in my price range or that allows a dog.”
Jami Lavin, Big Sky, Montana
“I would definitely say housing is the key. The affordable housing initiative is for ‘essential’ town employees such as firefighters, health center workers and teachers. It’s not focused on the workers who support the tourist-driven economy. We are the majority of who the tourists interact with on a day-to-day basis in restaurants, grocery stores, outfitters, etcetera. Without us, tourists wouldn’t have much to do here.”
Justin Hudson, Billings, Montana
“Maybe it’s because higher paying jobs like these, in construction, are taking employees away from those small businesses. It’s kind of a catch-22. You want growth in your town but it can be hindering in terms of driving up cost of living.”