For some seasonal workers, Unemployment Insurance is a way of life
Seasonal National Park Service (NPS) employee Eric Smith said that when he was laid off from his job as a Naturalist Ranger in Tuolumne Meadows this fall, he filed for Unemployment Insurance with the State of California. “When I called this year … the guy on the other line said, ‘You’re a park ranger? I was wondering when you guys would be calling.’”
Smith said he thinks more NPS employees work seasonally and experience layoffs than in years past, in part because there are fewer full-time, year-round employees working skilled labor jobs in Yosemite. “In that sense, unemployment protects them. They cannot pay people very much, and other employment opportunities would make it hard to go back to a seasonal job…” said Smith.
Scott Gediman, Public Affairs Officer at Yosemite, told The Sheet that the park is recruiting for about 300 seasonal jobs for next summer’s season. He said that the exact number of seasonal employees at Yosemite depends on the park’s budget. Under President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget, the NPS would lose 1,242 full-time equivalent staff (meanwhile, in fiscal year 2016, the National Parks welcomed a record 323.6 million visitors, according to statistics from the agency).
The Sheet asked Craig Dalby, Public Information Officer for the National Park Service, how many NPS employees apply for UI benefits at the end of each summer season. “This isn’t information that the [NPS] tracks,” replied Dalby.
Deb Schweizer, Public Information Officer for the Inyo National Forest, also told The Sheet that “unemployment [for Federal employees] is handled at a national level. Inyo might get a portion of the bill for unemployment, but we don’t necessarily know it came from Joe Blow.”