NEW YORK (AP) — Starting wages for lifeguards in New York City will be $19.46 an hour this summer under an agreement reached with the lifeguard union, Mayor Eric Adams announced Wednesday.

Under the deal, a retention bonus will be awarded in September for those lifeguards who work every week through the summer season. Also, a new training program will be developed to fully staff 17 mini pools throughout the city.

Adams said in a statement that with an influx of lifeguards, the city will be able to “very quickly open all of our mini pools, an essential cooling center for young New Yorkers.” But he warned the agreement reached with the union won’t entirely solve the city’s challenge of fully guarding public swim areas.

“While these changes are a step in the right direction, our ability to safely open beaches and pools has been impacted by a national lifeguard shortage, and has also been held back by inefficient practices that are in dire need of further reform,” he said.

The mayor last month said he didn’t believe a pay raise would help the city attract more lifeguards, noting how lifeguards do the job for the “love of swimming” and “love of protecting people.”

State and local communities across the country have been grappling with the lack of available lifeguards this year, with many offering higher pay. While summer shortages aren’t unusual, many U.S. pools are also dealing with the fallout from earlier in the pandemic, when they closed and lifeguard certification stopped, according to the American Lifeguard Association.

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