Thrill-seekers are showing up - once again - to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
Since reopening in April after a yearlong shutdown, business here has been busy, and this July 4th weekend looks set to bring the biggest crowds yet.
But, the 114-year-old amusement park, a couple hours south of San Francisco, is operating with only about 1,000 employees, about half what's usual for the summer season.
Boardwalk President Karl Rice: “So from a staffing perspective, I mean, we'll be as ready as we're going to be.
And we're not staffed to the level that we would like.” To make sure all rides can stay open, it's all hands on deck.
Executives have stepped up and are now working at some attractions or food stands.
Rice - whose family owns the park – is himself taking on two eight-hour shifts a week.
"I think we're going to be chasing labor or struggling to find enough labor for the remainder of the summer.” As the country approaches the Independence Day celebrations that the Biden administration hoped could mark the country's emergence from the health crisis, the U.S. economy is both back to normal and very far from being so.
Data shows the leisure and hospitality industry is still missing 15% of its jobs.
Though there are several million more unemployed Americans than before the health crisis, U.S. businesses - as a whole - report a record number of job openings which need to be filled.
At the Boardwalk, the shutdown and lack of much advance notice about the reopening meant that seasonal hiring this year started months later than usual.
When it did, competition for workers was stiff with all local businesses ramping up at once.
As Rice expands his own work load... he's finding some unexpected benefits: "I have to say, at the end of a shift: one, I feel like I've contributed and I feel proud about the hard work I put in that day.
And two, I'm really eager and excited to sit down because my aching back and feet are tired and telling me that they are tired.
So there's no shame in putting your feet up after a hard day's work."