Mass. offering increased salary and bonuses for lifeguards at state beaches and pools this summer

A lifeguard watches over swimmers in the Charles River at City Splash. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
A lifeguard watches over swimmers in the Charles River at City Splash. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

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It’s probably too early to get overly optimistic about Chris Sale’s return, but the Red Sox ace looked pretty good in his first healthy spring training game in three years yesterday. He’s even smiling!

Let’s just hope he follows through a little better than Grant Williams did last night. (Also, feel better Justin Turner!)

To the news:

Do you have a teen looking for a summer job? Faced with seemingly perennial lifeguard shortages, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation is ponying up to get applicants to watch over the state’s swimming areas this summer. And as WBUR’s Irina Matchavariani reports, that means higher pay and bigger sign-on bonuses than last year for those willing to commit to a lifeguard job.

  • The details: The state is offering a $22-an-hour starting wage for lifeguards — and up to $27-an-hour for pool and beach managers. That comes with $500 sign-on bonuses for those who submit their applications by May 1 and up to $750 in additional bonuses for those willing to work through late summer. DCR is also offering free training and certification courses to those who commit to lifeguard for the agency.
  • Interested? The department opened the application window for lifeguard positions in all regions of the state last week. DCR Commissioner Doug Rice told Matchavariani that they’re aiming to hire around 800 lifeguards across nearly 60 locations. (Applicants have to be at least 16 years old by day one of the job.)

Zoom out: Despite recent mass layoffs in the tech sector, it’s still a competitive overall job market — with both the state and national unemployment rate under 4%. Rice says that puts pressure on the lifeguard market, too. DCR isn’t only competing with municipalities and private entities trying to staff up their pools — but also other sectors. “In an economy like this, where there’s a lot of opportunities for young people to get good-paying jobs … we just have to remain competitive,” Rice said.

You know who else needs to be competitive? The MBTA. The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce is urging Gov. Maura Healey to offer the next MBTA general manager a base annual salary of “$450,000 to $500,000” in order to attract top-tier talent in this market. That’s more than 30% higher than the 2022 salary of former T GM, Steve Poftak (not to mention more than double Healey’s base salary.)

  • James Rooney, the chamber’s CEO, frames the big salary bump as a “long-term investment in a role that will stabilize and transform our T, which is for the benefit of the people of Massachusetts.”
  • Compare and contrast: The chamber analyzed the salaries of the leaders of similar public transit systems — which range from $280,000 (NJ Transit) to $503,188 (D.C.’s Metro) in 2023 dollars. The chamber says the T will need to offer a salary closer to the latter to attract someone who can fix its many challenges.

You heard it here first: Earlier this winter, WBUR’s Gabrielle Emanuel reported on new research showing that freshwater fish across the country may be dangerous to eat due to high levels of PFAS chemicals. Now, state officials in Massachusetts are warning residents to limit their consumption of fish caught at 13 state parks, including Walden Pond in Concord and Worcester’s Lake Quinsigamond.

State Auditor Diana DiZoglio says she will look into racial discrimination allegations against the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, after The Boston Globe detailed several complaints over the weekend. Four Black employees say they were paid less than white counterparts, while a white worker said he was fired after complaining that the authority — which oversees Boston’s two convention centers — heightened security at Black-sponsored events.

  • DiZoglio also told WBUR’s Amy Sokolow that the last audit of the MCCA found “several deficiencies in their billing and settlement records,” as well as with their contract renewals. “Our office will begin conducting an audit of the MCCA,” she said.

P.S.— Have you noticed that the four-day work week has been in the news a lot lately. Yesterday’s episode of On Point dug into whether the concept is actually feasible on a large-scale level in the U.S. with both proponents and critics. Give it a listen!


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Nik DeCosta-Klipa Newsletter Editor
Nik DeCosta-Klipa is the newsletter editor for WBUR.



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