Snooki, The Situation, JWoww and all the rest of the Jersey Shore cast have made the beach destination synonymous with late night partying and a lifestyle full of GTL -- gym, tan, laundry -- but the area might actually be a good place to do something else: Find a job.
Ocean City, New Jersey -- one town on the Jersey Shore -- added the largest percentage of jobs over the course of last year of any place in the country, according to yesterday's Bureau of Labor Statistics report. Ocean City increased its employment by a whopping 12.9 percent in 2011, followed by Columbus, Indiana with a 11 percent gain and Odessa, Texas with 9.1 percent growth. (h/t Slate)
The data beckons an interesting question: Does the real-life Jersey Shore's employment gain have any correlation with "Jersey Shore," the television show? Despite controversies over stereotyping the area's natives, many Jersey Shore residents credit the reality television series with helping the region's local businesses. When the show was set to get a contentious $420,000 state tax credit last year, the mayor of Seaside Heights, the town where the "Jersey Shore" is filmed, supported the series, citing its contribution to the local economy, according to AM New York.
The area has become a more prominent tourist destination, as some of the show's millions of viewers flock to see where Pauly D eats spaghetti. In this way, the cast has increased exposure for businesses, according to Jersey Shore residents interviewed by Toms River News -- a local community magazine. (Our colleagues at the Toms River Patch also have the story.)
“It’s been phenomenal!” Tony Rivoli, an owner of a restaurant that is regularly featured on the show, told Toms River News. “We now get people coming here from all over the country and all over the world."
In fact, tourism and leisure jobs in Ocean City witnessed a 40 percent increase over the course of 2011, according to recent BLS data. The highest employment gain in Ocean City's economy last year occurred in trade, transportation and utilities with a 45 percent growth.
In addition to providing exposure for businesses and the surrounding area, the show's cast members have been large consumers of local products and services. MTV executives and cast members occupy more than 100 rooms in local hotels, and the show's cast and crew eat more than 30,000 meals during the production of the series, Michael Loundy, who belongs to Seaside Reality and serves as a liaison between MTV and the local area, told Toms River News.