Help is wanted on Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Photo: AFP/William West

Facing a pandemic-induced labor shortage, one sun-drenched Australian state on Thursday began offering a bundle of cash to anyone willing to “work in paradise.” 

Across Australia, long-reopened bars, shops and restaurants have struggled with vacancies usually filled by throngs of foreign backpackers who flock Down Under. 

But border closures have turned off that spigot, and “help wanted” signs are now a common sight in tourist towns up and down Australia’s east coast. 

Countrywide, job vacancies are up almost 30% since the pandemic began, according to government statistics, and the economy is predicted to soon reach full employment. 

In regional Queensland, the problem has become so acute that Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Thursday offered A$1,750 (US$1,400) to anyone who moves there and starts a job in the tourism sector.

“We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world,” she said launching the program. “This campaign will give Queenslanders and other Australians even more reasons to come to work in paradise.

“From chefs, waiters and bartenders through to tour guides and deckhands on the Great Barrier Reef, there are plenty of great jobs up for grabs.” 

With borders predicted to remain closed for another year and domestic tourism resurgent, analysts predict the problem could get worse.

In Western Australia, several mining companies have warned production will have to be cut and profits will be hit because posts are not being filled. 

On Thursday, Virgin Australia airline group announced a new recruitment drive to fill hundreds of new jobs and the launch of 700 more flights every week. 

Although the problem has been made more acute by Australia’s almost total border closures, economists predict other countries will face similar problems as the process of rolling back restrictions quickens.

In the United States, Federal Reserve officials have warned of “bottlenecks” in the labor market as the economy transitions back to normal.

In Russia, the construction sector – which usually relies on a stream of cheaper migrant laborers – has turned to more expensive workers from Russia’s regions.

In Greece, olive farmers have had to turn to family members at harvest time, amid a local labor shortage.

ANZ chief economist, Sharon Zollner this month warned the New Zealand economy was starting to show strains “as the economy tries to grow faster than it physically can given shortages of both goods and labor.”