Seasonal worker shortage impacting Twin Cities parks
seasonal worker shortage impacting twin cities parks

Seasonal worker shortage impacting Twin Cities parks

Staff at park systems, including in Minneapolis, are feeling the effects of a labor shortage as they get ready for one of their busiest weekends of the summer.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — The worker shortage has affected a wide range of industries and it’s having a big impact on park systems this summer.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) is struggling to hire seasonal employees. 

“Oh yeah, there’s a big time shortage,” said Chris Town, a park keeper with MPRB. 

Brent Kath, MPRB assistant director of asset management, said they have hired about 35 seasonal park keepers with room for another 60-70. That means MPRB is still looking to fill about 70% of their seasonal positions. Seasonal park keepers do routine maintenance in the parks including mowing, weed whacking and trash collection. 

It’s roughly the same situation for their mobile equipment operators. 

MPRB is responsible for 180 parks. 

“I’ve been here for five years; this is easily the lowest I’ve seen it in five years,” Kath said. “It just makes it difficult to get to all of our parks… do the things that people are routinely used to seeing.”

For example, park keepers usually mow the parks every 7-10 days. Because of the shortage, it could now take up to two weeks. 

When it comes to trash pickup, they are prioritizing high-traffic areas. 

“Obviously with school getting out just last week and the Fourth of July, this is going to be a really busy weekend for our park staff. So be patient with us; we will get to everything, it’s just going to take a little more time,” Kath said. 

Town, who has been with MPRB as a park keeper for 25 years, called it a dream job. 

“I’m happy as a lark… some guys my age retire and I’m going to keep on going for another four to five years just because I like it so much around here,” Town said. 

An online posting for a seasonal equipment operator at MPRB shows a $24.01 hourly wage, while seasonal park maintenance workers get paid $15.80 an hour. You can learn more about MPRB’s job openings, here

St. Paul Parks & Recreation is operating at about 25% of its normal seasonal maintenance team. They are mainly short when it comes to entry level positions for maintenance staff. However, the city’s lifeguard team is fully staffed for the summer. 

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