Southern California swimming pools are in desperate need of lifeguards this summer, but they aren’t alone.
Throughout the entire nation, public and private pools are having a hard time hiring lifeguards.
Across the country, there are more than 300,000 public pools. Almost all have had some sort of issue staffing lifeguards.
Some are restricting hours and others have opted to close entirely.
At the Fontana Park Aquatic Center, a hiring push began all the way back in January. The pool has been affected by the shortage, but managers say they’ve addressed the issue by being flexible and adaptable.
Geneo Farrar from the aquatic center said the pool usually hires more than 200 people, but hiring was much more difficult this year. They’ve adjusted schedules to better address the issue with hopes that everyone will still get get a chance to swim.
Other pools are offering incentives like paid training and bonuses.
There are many possible explanations for the shortfall, including many of the same issues affecting the labor market throughout the nation.
The coronavirus pandemic put a freeze on certification classes, so an entire year’s worth of lifeguard trainees had to either put off their training or find something else to do.
For many others, it appears wages are just not competitive enough to bring lifeguards back onto duty. Instead, they’re pursuing jobs with similar wages but less rigorous training and responsibility.
Another theory floated earlier this year — the war in Ukraine might have put a strain on fewer Europeans coming stateside for a few months of visa-sponsored work.
Experts have also cited a compounding issue with the hiring process. With fewer lifeguards on staff, there are fewer certified lifeguards available to teach and train the next generation.