Aug 6, 2021 - Things to Do

Why you should expect longer lines at the Iowa State Fair this year

Illustration of a shrug emoji behind an empty state fair booth.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Iowa State Fair organizers say there are worker shortages abound this year ranging from parking attendants to bartenders to corn dog cooks.

Why it matters: You'll likely have to wait a little longer in lines, especially if attendance reaches 2019's record-breaking levels.

The intrigue: A unique challenge for Iowa's 11-day fair is the limited availability of teens and young adult workers, who typically make up the majority of those working the grounds.

Employment for teens ages 15-19 increased by two percentage points between 2019 and 2021. That's likely because it's easier to get an entry-level job at a decent wage today, said Iowa State University economist John Winters.

  • What that means for the fair: It's a great time to be a teen looking for work, but that also spells more competition for employers.

Meanwhile, employment for young adults ages 20-24 decreased by 6 percentage points from 2019-21.

  • They may have qualified for unemployment benefits and stimulus checks, giving them more of a financial cushion, especially if they moved back home, Winters said.
  • What that means for the fair: There isn't an urgency to rush back to the workforce, especially for temporary labor, Winters said.

The bottom line: About 1,600 fair workers are standard.

  • Hiring, which typically would've wrapped up at this point, continues this year, ISF spokesperson Mindy Williamson told us yesterday.

You can find job descriptions and applications, here.


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