State lifeguards are getting a pay bump as part of a recruitment effort to address a lifeguard shortage, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced today.
State lifeguards at downstate swimming facilities like Riverbank State Park in Manhattan and Roberto Clemente State Park in the Bronx will now be making $22 an hour, up from $18.15. Lifeguards upstate will now make $20 an hour, up from $14.95. Lifeguards at CUNY and SUNY facilities will also be included.
The new pay rates will go into effect immediately for lifeguards at state-operated swimming facilities, the governor said. Lifeguards with more than two seasons of experience will also receive raises ranging from 5% to 30%, depending on location and experience.
The pay increases are part of a greater push to encourage more applicants. The state parks department is also offering “on-demand” lifeguard certification courses and launched a digital recruitment campaign to promote the jobs, the governor said.
"All New Yorkers deserve the opportunity to safely enjoy our public beaches and pools this summer," Hochul said in a statement. "With a lifeguard shortage threatening access to swimming facilities, we are aggressively recruiting more lifeguards to ensure safe access to outdoor recreation during the summer months."
The state’s new rates do not apply to the lifeguards at any of the New York City run beaches or pools. Hochul’s announcement comes a week after the city blamed lifeguard shortages for the cancellation of swim programs at city pools. City lifeguard pay currently starts at $16 an hour, that’s now $6 dollars less than their downstate lifeguards counterparts.
The announcement comes days after two young people drowned at Rockaway Beach in Queens, in an area of the beach that is currently unguarded, causing public outcry.
“We're trying to see if we could rethink some of these rules to address these shortages,” Mayor Eric Adams said during an unrelated news conference on Monday, before the governor's announcement raising pay rates.
The city parks department did not have a comment. A spokesperson for Adams did not provide any additional comment on Tuesday.
If the positions aren’t filled, state swimming facilities will need to reduce hours or restrict swimming sections, the state parks department told Gothamist in an email last week.
The state lowered the lifeguard age restriction to 15 across most of New York last year. Hochul said the state was trying to address shortages by "proactively adjusting lifeguards from park to park."
The shortage of lifeguards has become a nationwide problem as various factors, including the receding COVID-19 pandemic and low unemployment numbers, have impacted the number of people signing up for the job.
This story was updated with comment from Mayor Eric Adams.