NY Governor Kathy Hochul has authorized a pay increase for state lifeguards to help address a staffing shortage at New York State Park beaches and pools and Department of Environmental Conservation campgrounds and day use areas beaches. Starting pay rates for lifeguards at upstate facilities will increase 34 percent, from $14.95 per hour to $20 per hour, and 21 percent for lifeguards at downstate facilities, from $18.15 per hour to $22 per hour.
"All New Yorkers deserve the opportunity to safely enjoy our public beaches and pools this summer," Governor Hochul said. "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 new pay rates will go into effect immediately for lifeguards at swimming facilities operated by the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the Department of Environmental Conservation. State Parks provides lifeguards at swimming pools and beaches at 70 parks across the state. DEC operates 17 beaches with more than 40 lifeguards needed. This will also include lifeguards employed by SUNY and CUNY. State agencies will continue to advance discussions with United University Professions toward a beneficial outcome for all parties.
Pay rates will also increase for lifeguards with more than two seasons of experience, ranging from five percent to 30 percent, depending on location and experience.
State Parks is holding on-demand Lifeguard Certification Courses and also launched a lifeguard Digital Recruitment Campaign that has already gained approximately 1.2 million impressions to date across a variety of platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Indeed, YouTube, and Vistar, and will run until at least July 4, 2022.
Last year, New York lowered the lifeguard age restriction to 15 across most of the state and is now proactively adjusting lifeguards from park to park to address shortages until full staffing capacity is achieved. Nassau and Suffolk Counties have different requirements for lifeguards than other regions of the state, as Long Island beaches require different lifeguarding skills than beaches in other regions of the state and so last year did not lower the age restriction to 15. To address this shortage on Long Island in particular, the State Department of Health worked with the Nassau County Health Department to amend their approved certification course. DOH's Center for Environmental Health accepted the change, and Nassau County is now set to allow 15 year olds to alleviate the shortage.
State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, "New York State Park lifeguards are vital to protecting the millions of swimmers at State Park beaches and pools each year. Thanks to Governor Hochul's leadership, this much-needed pay increase will help to recruit more members to our State Parks team. As a former Harriman State Park lifeguard, I know first hand that lifeguarding is a great way to earn money, gain valuable job experience, and serve the public."