Determinants of foreign guest worker use to mitigate labor shortages in tourism dependent areas of the United States

Authors: William Terry*, Clemson University
Topics: Tourism Geography, Migration, Economic Geography
Keywords: Tourism Geographies, Labor Migration, GIS, Guest Workers, Economic Geography
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Mid-City, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Over the past twenty years, many tourism dependent localities in the United States have moved toward the use of foreign guest workers via the H-2B and J-1 visa programs in order to mitigate labor shortages associated with seasonal demands. The issue has become increasingly present in local media coverage in such areas and debate continues as to the necessity of their use amid local social and economic impacts. H.R. directors at hotels and resorts insist that they can’t find enough qualified workers while other groups opposed to the use of the visas claim that employment prospects and wages are undercut for local workers in the labor marketplace. This project is aimed at shedding some light on the roots of this issue by analyzing various datasets (U.S. Census, American Community Survey, National Housing Authority, etc…) in comparison to H-2B data and J-1 data utilizing GIS to determine possible determinants that help explain where J-1 and H-2B use is heaviest. Data to be tested includes housing price, wage and employment. Previous qualitative research on the topic suggests that lack of affordable workforce housing hinders the ability of local places to sustain a service-based labor market for tourism-related jobs. Thus it is hypothesized that gentrification or at least increasingly unaffordable housing in resort areas is likely a major contributing factor. This and other results will be discussed, especially as they may relate to local and national policies associated with guest worker visas for tourism.

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