Kings Island latest local employer to raise wages

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Kings Island latest local employer to raise wages

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A seasonal job at Kings Island will pay better this year as the amusement park joins examples of other local employers raising wages in a tightening job market with fewer unemployed workers.

Pay rates depend on whether employees are returning to the park from prior years and their job title, so an exact number for how much wages are rising could not be provided. However, Kings Island spokesman Don Helbig said the higher pay rates are meant to be competitive and all sit above minimum wage.

“For Kings Island, we want to continue to be the employer of choice for high school and college students and also for adults that may be looking to supplement their income,” Helbig said.

Due to a new water ride opening this year, an expanded number of entrance lanes and other reasons, the Mason roller coaster and water park is also hiring more people this year, Helbig said. Hiring this year will exceed 4,200 people for seasonal jobs, he said, which is more than the normal 4,000 or so annual hires. Training starts for some employees in March.

Kings Island’s promotion of increased wages throughout the park this year comes as unemployment rates in Ohio and Greater Cincinnati are now sitting at the lowest levels since 2001. Ohio’s unemployment rate shrank from an average high of 10.3 percent in 2009 and 2010, and 5.7 percent in 2014, to 4.9 percent last year, according to Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Other local hiring companies that have moved to raise wages include the Home Depot Rapid Deployment Center in Monroe, which is paying more and began hiring earlier before the busy spring season in its search for quality workers.

The Home Depot distribution center, which opened in 2009 near the Ohio 63 and Interstate 75 intersection, supplies stock for more than 100 stores in a multi-state region. Hiring started in December and will last through April to fill about 90 entry-level general warehouse jobs, Scott Brown, the center’s staffing specialist, previously told Journal-News.

Starting pay was raised to $13 an hour to attract better qualified job candidates, Brown previously said. After six months, employees automatically get a raise to $14 an hour, he said.

“As the economy’s improving and the pool of workers is getting smaller, we’re competing for a lot of the same people other companies are competing for,” he said.

In another local example, AK Steel has been hiring entry-level, full-time hourly production employees at its Middletown Works steel plant — the company’s largest steel plant — with pay starting at $18.03 per hour, according to the company. Pay starts at $18.03 per hour plus shift differential, plus a $500 cash bonus after six months and $500 cash bonus after 18 months, according to AK Steel.

The last major job fair to apply at Kings Island before it opens to visitors in April is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27. The job fair will take place at the park, at 6300 Kings Island Drive, Mason. At this time, there are still approximately 3,500 jobs open, according to Helbig.

“After the job fair, that number will be down significantly,” he said.

Job opportunities are available in all areas of park operation such as admissions, call center, cash control, entertainment, food and beverage, fire and safety, games, guest services, lifeguards, marketing internships, merchandise, rides, security, sweeps and warehouse, according to Kings Island.

Prospective job applicants are also encouraged to apply to Kings Island online at kifun.jobs before attending Saturday’s hiring event to speed up the application process, Helbig said.

“That way when you come out, you’re ready to go for your interview,” he said.

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