UTAH (ABC4) – Pew Research Center shows that 42 states now have more job openings than unemployed people.
Utah is one of the hardest-hit states with a job-to-jobless ratio of more than two to one. This may not come as a surprise as retailers across the Beehive State continue to hang signs reading “HELP WANTED” in their windows and storefronts. However, as summer approaches, the staffing shortage may not only make the wait time a little longer at your favorite fast-food restaurant, but it could affect the way you cool off as well.
If you have ever stopped by Layton City Hall to pay a bill or attend a council meeting, you may have noticed a large dome building that shares the parking lot. That dome is the removable ceiling of Surf ‘n Swim. A ceiling which is now nowhere to be seen, and that means summer is almost here.
“We want people to have fun, but we want to ensure their safety as well,” Steve Garside with Layton City told ABC4. He explained that the two pools that make up Surf ‘n Swim are set to open next week. However, the city may have to make some changes this year to ensure everyone’s safety. And for the first time in years, those changes have nothing to do with COVID-19.
“Now it’s more the staff shortage than it is the customer shortage,” Garside said through a laugh. Across northern Utah, and possibly the entire state, lifeguards are hard to come by these days.
“In order to address that, there may be some time changes as far as when the pool will be open,” added Garside. This could be done in a few different ways. Hours of operation could be cut altogether, or the two pools may operate at different hours. Garside told ABC4 that although opening day is about a week away, pool managers will be as creative as they can to make sure the public can enjoy the amenity all summer long.
The shortage of lifeguards (pool and park employees) is not limited to Layton.
“The pay is comparable with the other cities right around,” stated Garside. “I mean, most cities right now for lifeguards, we’re fluctuating between 10 and 15 dollars an hour.” Garside said even with competitive pay with nearby cities (and fast-food joints), there doesn’t seem to be one major reason why cities can’t recruit lifeguards right now.
The parks and recreation department at Roy City echoed the staffing shortage concerns of Layton. According to the department, the city usually has around 75 people trained and hired by the end of April in anticipation of the summer season. However, currently, there are only about 45 employees hired and ready to go.
Both cities usually sponsor lifeguard classes in early spring and only during the spring. However, this year, both cities will offer mid-summer classes if more people show a desire to work as a lifeguard for the summer.
As cities get creative during the staffing shortage this summer, it’s best to check their websites for up-to-date pool schedules and job opportunities.