USA Study Reveals Labor Shortage Pushing Wages Higher in Gulf Shores and South Baldwin County

Posted on June 30, 2015
Alice Jackson

Beach Wages data-lightbox='featured'
This graph shows the wage rates of the job descriptions in the four surveyed industries combined. The average of the combined wages was $9.69/hour in 2010, and assuming constant growth, will average $12.02/hour in 2020, a 24 percent increase. The information is from a study conducted by Dr. David Turnipseed, professor of management in the Mitchell College of Business.

Rapidly expanding jobs in restaurants, hotels, condominiums, retail and entertainment industries in South Baldwin County is driving wages higher, according to a study from the University of South Alabama’s Mitchell College of Business.

The growth is especially high for seasonal employees, according to Dr. David Turnipseed, professor of management. Turnipseed did the pilot study to assess the impact of labor demand on wages at the request of Bob Higgins, chairman of the Coastal Resilience Coalition. The study included the lodging, restaurant, retail and entertainment industries for 2010-2014.

The study focused on the most critical job classifications – cashier, front desk, housekeeper, hourly supervisor – in each industry, including the number of employees and the wage rate in each job at peak season. The largest growth rate was in laundry attendants (32 percent) in the lodging industry. Housekeepers (17 percent) in lodging and hourly supervisors (17 percent) in the entertainment industry had the second largest growth rate. Bussers (13 percent) in restaurants, front desk employees (10 percent) in lodging and cashiers (7 percent) in retail and attractions also showed healthy growth.

“Although the job descriptions in this study represent only a fraction of those in South Baldwin County, they are likely to be the same type employees as in many other jobs in the area,” Turnipseed said. “As the demand for labor increases in the jobs and industries included in this study, workers with similar and easily transferable skills in other classifications can migrate to the jobs with higher pay.”

Pay increased across all industries and in 15 of the 17 job descriptions surveyed. Hourly supervisors in entertainment, restaurants and lodging, as well as front desk employees in lodging, had the fastest growing wages, followed closely by cashiers in retail and entertainment

Responding companies also reported increases in fringe benefits and other labor-related costs. Increases in vacations and insurance coverage were reported as attempts to attract and keep employees. Recruiting bonuses and employee referral “bounties” were also reported.

“This forecast is based on a small sample and may not accurately represent the overall labor and wage situation,” Turnipseed said. “However, the overall message is clear. If you are looking for a job, there are lots of jobs with steadily rising wages in this area.”

The professor said there are plans to conduct a more comprehensive study in October, which will  include a larger number of South Baldwin County businesses

Turnipseed added: “The increasingly healthy economic indicators in South Baldwin County suggest that the number of jobs and wage rates will continue to increase at an even greater rate. Consequently, a more exhaustive survey is needed to help the area plan to have enough new workers. The more business participation, the more valuable and useful the data will be.”

Ed Rodriguez, president of the Coastal Alabama Business Chamber; Donna Watts, president and CEO of the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce; and representatives from area companies in the four industries assisted Turnipseed in the study by choosing the most critical job classifications. 

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