As Uncle Sam takes his cut today on those still filing their 2017 taxes, nearly 1,200 employees of Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., are getting a tax-induced bonus today based upon cuts in the 2018 tax rate for the amusement park near the Great Smoky Mountains.
Dollywood hosts who worked at least 1,000 hours last year and are still employed with the amusement park are each getting $500 checks today, thanks to the recent federal tax cuts.
"Dollywood strives to be a great place to work for great people," Dollywood President Craig Ross said in a statement announcing the first-of-the-kind employee bonuses. "We're grateful for the memories our Hosts create for our Guests by working hard every day, and this bonus is just one way we plan to share our appreciation throughout the year."
The Dollywood employees are among more than 5 million Americans who have received bonus payments or wage boosts from savings their employers got when the federal corporate tax rate was cut from 35 percent to 21 percent this year under the tax changes adopted by Congress in late 2017, according to the White House.
Dollywood announced the payments on the tax filing deadline today.
This is also a time when Dollywood and other Sevier County tourism attractions and hotels are hiring extra staff for the traditonally busy summer season ahead and need to recruit workers from outside of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge to staff all of the hotels, restaurants and attractions that draw millions each year to the Smoky Mountains.
Sevier County is Tennessee's third biggest tourism county, behind only Nashville (Davidson County) and Memphis (Shelby County).
Unemployment rose in February to 6.3 percent in Sevier County — the fourth highest among Tennessee's 95 counties, according to the latest employment figures from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. But last May as the tourism community geared up for the summertime rush, the local jobless rate fell to only 2.6 percent, well below both the state and national rates. The jobless rate could drop even further this year with unemployment nationwide already at a 17-year low.
"The job market is as tight as it has been in at least a decade," said Pete Owens, director of communications at Dollywood.
In addition to this one-time bonus, Dollywood said its employees receive access to the Dollywood Family Healthcare Center, loyalty wages for employees who stay with the company, complimentary Dollywood and Dollywood's Splash Country admission for family and friends as well as various community-wide incentives. A comprehensive health benefits package, is also available for qualified full-time employees and qualifying seasonal hosts.