Adams to boost NYC lifeguard wages amid national shortage

Big Apple lifeguards will receive a pay bump amid the nationwide shortfall that’s left the city with half as many of them this year compared to 2021, Mayor Eric Adams announced Wednesday.

In a deal City Hall struck with the union representing lifeguards, they will this summer receive $19.46 per hour — over $3 more than the previous starting wage of $16.10.

“Every New Yorker deserves to safely enjoy our city’s public pools and beaches this summer and my team has taken extraordinary measures to make that happen,” Adams said in announcing the deal “to address the immediate needs of our pools.”

As of June 15, the city Parks Department said the agency certified 516 lifeguards so far this season — a 49% decline compared to the 1,013 hired in 2021 and a 66% drop from the 1,530 lifeguards hired in 2016, The Post previously reported. The shortage caused New York City’s free swimming programs at its 52 outdoor pools to sink this year, the department said last month.

To lure New Yorkers not to abandon their beach towels and poolside chairs, the city government will offer a “retention bonus” in September to lifeguards who work each week during the summer months.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced that city lifeguards will be receiving a pay raise.
Dennis A. Clark

The mayor explained that his administration came to a deal with the union, District Council 37, to form a training program with the aim of adding staff to Gotham’s 17 mini pools.

The announcement comes after Adams on June 21 pledged to review city rules after reports documented that bureaucratic blunders and union regulations are making the city’s lifeguard scarcity worse.

The pay bump also comes after Gov. Kathy Hochul recently revealed she is upping wages for state lifeguards. Lifeguards at downstate locations got their pay increased to $22 per hour from a current wage of $18.15, while upstate water workers now earn $20.

Rockaway Beach
A national shortage has left New York City with only half as many lifeguards as last year.

Additionally, nonprofit news outlet The City reported last month that, despite the dearth, officials at the Department of Citywide Administrative Services are rejecting requests from paramedics and other first responders who want to work as lifeguards — even though agency workers proved such asks during previous summers.

Hizzoner indicated Wednesday morning he and his team are working on other measures to keep beaches and pools safe for swimmers, including getting rid of unspecified “inefficient practices.”

“While these changes are a step in the right direction, our ability to safely open beaches and pools has been impacted by a national lifeguard shortage and has also been held back by inefficient practices that are in dire need of further reform,” he said in the news release.

“We will continue to work closely to correct course on policies that don’t serve New Yorkers and pool resources from all agencies to ensure a fun and safe summer.”

In mid-June, a teenage girl and a man drowned on the same day while swimming in the Rockaways. Days later, a 21-year-old New Jersey man drowned at a state park. 

As of June 15, at least 21 people have drowned in New York and New Jersey waters since April.