NY Gov. Kathy Hochul bumps NYC lifeguard pay amid shortage

Governor Kathy Hochul is boosting pay for lifeguards to attract more applicants to state beaches — as New York City is facing shore staffing problems that critics say led to a fatal drowning last Friday.

“All New Yorkers deserve the opportunity to safely enjoy our public beaches and pools this summer,” Hochul said in a Wednesday press release. 

“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,” she added.

Lifeguards at downstate facilities like Riverbank State Park in Manhattan and Roberto Clemente State Park in the Bronx will get their pay increased to $22 per hour from a current wage of $18.15 while upstate lifeguards will make $20 moving forward.

City lifeguards currently start at $16 per hour, according to the Parks Department.

Gov. Kathy Hochul wants to increase more lifeguards, to ensure residents have access to swimming facilities.
Gregory P. Mango
Lifeguards can make $22 per hour from a current wage of $18.15.
Stephen Yang

The state is also providing “on-demand” courses for lifeguards to deal with ongoing shortages at facilities overseen by the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation; the Department of Environmental Conservation.

There are currently 823 lifeguards stationed at 87 sites statewide employed by the two agencies, with the state aiming to hire more than 200 additional people in upcoming weeks, according to the Hochul administration. 

Facilities in New York City could get 15 additional bodies to help the 50 lifeguards already stationed at Riverbank and Roberto Clemente.

Lifeguards at SUNY and CUNY facilities are also covered by the pay raise.

The various moves come days after a teenager drowned in the choppy waters off Rockaway Beach in Queens, which did not have a lifeguard on duty during normal business hours, Gothamist reported.

Adams has faced criticism in recent weeks for not doing more to ensure enough lifeguards at city beaches and pools, which have cut back on lap swim times for New Yorkers as hot summer weather approaches.

The City recently reported that red tape has barred first responders from lending a hand with the lifeguard shortage – an issue that Adams says he is now examining.

Action by Hochul on the matter echoed past instances when her predecessor, ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo, stepped into city matters – like deteriorating conditions in NYCHA housing and a renegade Harlem deer – to mixed success. 

Eric Adams
Mayor Eric Adams is looking into having more resources help with the lifeguard shortage.
Paul Martinka

An Adams spokesman did not respond to a request for comment by publication time. 

Additional reporting by Bernadette Hogan.