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New York will spend $5 million to hire lifeguards this summer. Here's why Gov. Hochul says there's a shortage.

Lifeguard shortage top of mind in the Bronx
Lifeguard shortage top of mind in the Bronx 01:53

NEW YORK -- New York state is putting $5 million into hiring lifeguards amid the nationwide shortage, Gov. Kathy Hochul said Thursday. 

As Memorial Day nears, the hope is to maintain enough skilled lifeguards to keep beaches statewide fully staffed this summer. 

"Part of it is that we were not able to meet the pay scale that people can get working at a fast food restaurant, and we know how critically important it is to have trained individuals with their eyes on your children at a beach or the swimming pool, and making sure that we also have people to offer lessons to them," Hochul said. "We'll be ready this year. The pay increase, 34%, went into effect." 

New York started offering lifeguards additional perks, like pay raises and signing bonuses, last year. 

The $5 million is being made available through a state grant to all New York counties and a handful of large cities to help incentivize lifeguard recruitment and retention. Municipalities have until July 26 to apply. 

NYC beaches set to open with fewer lifeguards

New York City has less than half the lifeguards it needs to cover its beaches, according to officials. The city said it would open beaches Memorial Day weekend despite the shortage. New York City has 230 lifeguards for its beaches, and it needs 600. 

"We will have lifeguards stationed at as many areas as we can. Where we don't have lifeguards, we put up red flags," said New York City Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue.   

The governor is also deploying additional drones over beaches to monitor for sharks, and hiring more people to fly them. At least 13 swimmers reported being bitten by a shark at Long Island beaches over the past two summers. 

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