The shoulder season can be hard on seasonal workers, but those that are not filing for unemployment or looking for temporary work are taking some well-deserved vacations, according to Bryson Allen, senior human resources manager at Canyons Resort.
"We've found that a lot of the people that work seasonally year-round are really into travel and outdoor activities," he said. "So during the time between winter and summer, they're going on vacation, taking personal time, doing a lot of traveling after finding that the end of April or early May is the best time to do so."
That vacation time is only for those that are not already employed to help the resort transition from one season to the next. Emily Summers, communications manager for Deer Valley Resort, said there are some hires already working on preparing the resort for the summer season.
"Those that are still working are our crews on the mountain, because there is still a lot of prep and wrap-up work to do," she said. "So we do have quite a few employees that stay on year-round."
The employees that don't are welcome to file for unemployment, but according to Nic Dunn, public information officer for the Utah Department of Workforce Services, the ski resorts' seasonal employees hardly ever end up drawing unemployment benefits.
"Only about 10 percent of their staff actually collect any benefits," he said. "Most either find jobs or are on unemployment for a fairly short period of time."
In fact, at least one resort has already done most of the hiring they plan to do for the summer. Summers said that while Deer Valley has hired most summer seasonal workers, it is an ongoing process. There are still a select few job openings on the resort's employment site online.
"We will have roughly 750 employees during the summer months, which includes 425 year-round employees," Summers said. "Our summer staff is almost exclusively people who worked for us in the winter."
That means about 325 seasonal employees are hired at Deer Valley. Andy Miller, communications manager at PCMR, said they will hire approximately 165 seasonal workers while Allen said Canyons will bring on about 300 this summer.
Jobs in lift operations have already been filled, mostly by those who worked the lifts during the ski season, but food and beverage jobs are still being filled at all three resorts.
Summers said Deer Valley is already booked through June for weddings, so banquet servers and kitchen help is always needed. Miller and Allen said the same. Most operational jobs have been hired, but jobs in the food and beverage industry at the resorts are hired on an ongoing basis.
Jobs are still available at all three resorts, but there are not as many opportunities for hire in the summer as in the winter.
Dunn said there were about 229 openings for seasonal jobs in Summit County on the Department of Workforce Services (DWS) labor exchange last summer, but they work with the ski resorts to find more.
"January is the peak month for winter seasonal employment, and August is the peak month for summer seasonal employment," Dunn said. "May is more or less the baseline, when seasonal employment is nil."
According to the DWS, January's seasonal employment in the county is around 6,500 workers, and August's seasonal employment is around 2,000 workers. There are fewer jobs available, which Summers said makes it a lot easier to hire for summer than winter.
It also means housing is easier to find as well as more affordable. Deer Valley offers employee housing, but the other two resorts work with housing boards like the Mountainlands Community Housing Trust to find a place for summer seasonal workers.
"Housing is usually very expensive in the winter, but in the summer, it is much more affordable to live here," Allen said. "It is hard to find in the winter, but once most winter employees leave, there are a lot of openings for those who stay."
So while a lot of winter seasonal workers stay to work in the summer in order to be around and snag their winter jobs again as soon as they are available, there are locals and out-of-towners that are currently looking to find summer work.
Representatives at all three resorts as well as the DWS advise looking for jobs and applying now if those seeking employment haven't done so already. Deer Valley has already hired most of their employees, PCMR's positions are limited and Canyons will begin hiring soon.
"We will post those jobs around the end of April or the May 1," Allen said. "People need to start looking early and be on the job listing website when those jobs become available, because they fill up very quickly."