Black Hills afflicted with shortage of foreign seasonal workers
Mike Atkinson has to look far afield for housekeepers to work at his Black Hills resort — about 1,000 miles, in fact, to the Mexican border.
Every summer, a crew of 15 foreign guest workers, usually from Mexico, takes up residence in an on-site dormitory while cleaning the rooms and doing the laundry at the Mount Rushmore Resort at Palmer Gulch, where Atkinson is the general manager.
Similar arrangements have become the norm at other tourism-reliant businesses in the Black Hills, including Krull’s Market in Hill City, where five Jamaicans have spent many summers working in the grocery store and living behind it.
But this summer could be different. The expiration of a federal law last September has reduced the number of temporary guest workers allowed into the country, and some South Dakota businesses have been unable to hire their usual crew of foreign seasonal help.