MISSOULA — MTN News reported in May about a hurdle Missoula Parks and Recreation faced prior to the summer season starting -- a lifeguard shortage. Now as the season comes to a close, pools locally are facing the return of this problem.
“Basically I think we're all experiencing the same thing as far as we don't have enough applicants even like to train new folks," Missoula Parks and Recreation Aquatics Specialist Hannah Shepherd told MTN News.
At the end of every summer, pools like the Currents Aquatics Center typically see a drop off when some employees head back to school. But this year, more people left than expected leaving remaining staff stretched across shifts.
This situation is mirrored across many businesses locally dealing with worker shortages.
Wages keep going up to attract workers around town, but Parks and Rec lifeguarding jobs aren’t necessarily able to compete in the wage war.
The Missoula City Council is ultimately responsible for any pay raises, and that only happens twice a year during budget revisions. The department currently pays between $10 and $12 per hour for new lifeguards.
"In the past, we were able to just if we got applicants we were able to put them through a class and get them trained and get them in. We did still see some shortages periodically in the past, but this year has just really amplified all of it,” Shepherd explained.
The YMCA, UM’s Grizzly Pool, and Missoula Parks and Recreation are all currently looking to hire lifeguards. Applications are being accepted online at ymcamissoula.org, missoulaparks.org, and www.umt.edu.