JACKSON – Six Flags Great Adventure, hoping to hire 4,000 employees for the season, will offer $20 an hour for ride operators who work during its peak times, the amusement park said Tuesday.
The company said it also would pay security guards, lifeguards and landscapers between $16 an hour and $18 an hour.
“This wage increase demonstrates our commitment to being the employer of choice for central New Jersey,” John Winkler, the park’s president, said in a statement.
Six Flags Great Adventure is one of the Shore’s biggest tourist attractions, making it a bellwether for the upcoming season.
Its pay scale, much higher than New Jersey’s minimum wage of $13 an hour, is a sign that the local tourism industry remains hard-pressed to find the workers they need as they ramp up for the summer season.
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The tourism industry generated $7.6 billion for Monmouth and Ocean counties before the pandemic hit in 2020. Visitors appear to have returned last summer, but operators had trouble hiring enough workers to serve them.
Among the obstacles: Workers worried about their safety during the pandemic or couldn’t find child care. They had extra money from government stimulus programs. Foreign workers remained home. And the giant baby boom generation has begun to retire.
While the government benefits have expired, hiring could remain a challenge. New Jersey’s unemployment rate in the past year has fallen from 7.3% in January 2021 to 5.2% in January 2022, according to the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
Workers stand to benefit. Before the pandemic, Six Flags Great Adventure paid ride operators $12 to $12.50 an hour.
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Its new strategy: It will pay them $15 an hour for the day shift, $16 an hour for the night shift, up to $18 an hour for moderately busy times, and $20 an hour for working Saturdays, holidays and Fright Fest, spokeswoman Kristin Fitzgerald said.
“Currently, this pay scale only applies to ride operations,” she said. “However, if the new program is successful, we may expand the program to include other departments.”
Job applicants can find more information at www.sixflagsjobs.com. Other tourism industry businesses have upcoming hiring events of their own. Among them: Long Beach Island will host a job fair at St. Francis Community Center in Long Beach Township on April 16 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Michael L. Diamond is a business reporter who has been writing about the New Jersey economy and health care industry for more than 20 years. He can be reached at [email protected]
This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: Six Flags Great Adventure offers ride operators up to $20 an hour