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Popular water park raising pay, offering incentives as it looks to hire hundreds

WCVB Boston logo WCVB Boston 5/4/2021
a sign on a pole: industries competitive hiring © WMUR industries competitive hiring

Like many industries facing challenges hiring new workers, Water Country in Portsmouth will raise the pay for many jobs as it looks to hire nearly 300 workers in time for opening day.

The general manager Matt Hehl called it a tough labor market, with multiple industries competing to attract workers.

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Water Country expects a busy summer with some restrictions lifted and more people eager to get out after being vaccinated. As they try to expand the workforce to more pre-pandemic levels, they have raised the stakes on employment.

Starting hourly pay rates for positions like lifeguards, park services and seasonal maintenance have been increased to $13-$15 per hour. Workers also receive perks, like a $100 referral bonus and season passes for them and up to three members of their family.

Hehl said the lower minimum wage in New Hampshire has added to the hiring difficulties.

“The candidate pool in this area along the Seacoast is just not there for the type of team members that we’re looking to hire,” Hehl said. “So, we’ve got to dip on each side of the border into Maine and Massachusetts and once you get into that, you’re competing with a very different minimum wage.”

>> Water Country job portal

Water Country is scheduled to host a job fair Saturday in the hopes of filling some of those positions.

David Juvet, senior vice president for public policy at the Business and Industry Association said there is some short-term help for employers starting May 23. People on unemployment will have to start proving they are looking for work.

In the long-term, he is focusing on training and retaining a workforce in the state.

"There's legislation now to promote better connectivity between community college and employers," Juvet said.

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