Massachusetts officials are upping pay and offering bonuses in a bid to attract more lifeguards to protect swimmers at the state’s beaches.
The new incentives announced Friday come amid a shortage of lifeguards in the state and across the country.
Pay for Department of Conservation and Recreation lifeguards is going up from $17 to $20 an hour. Head lifeguards will start making $21 an hour, up from $18. Lifeguards who remain on the job the entire season can earn a $500 bonus.
“The raise in pay is being offered not only to increase lifeguard numbers at state-managed locations, but to reflect the essential nature of this job and the work the guards to protect the public and make our waterfronts and pools safer for all to visit,” Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides said.
The state has seen a spate of drownings in recent weeks. Massachusetts State Police have investigated 24 drownings so far this year. Col. Christopher Mason said that’s a “rate that is higher than other years in recent memory.”