Some towns along Jersey Shore face lifeguard shortage
Shore towns in Atlantic and Cape May counties say they're still looking to fill lifeguard positions before the tourist season begins.
Some are even raising their pay to stay competitive.
"I'm optimistic, but I have a feeling that we're probably going to be a little short," says Harry Back, supervisor of beaches of Cape May Beach Patrol.
Cape May Beach Patrol hopes to avoid closing off beaches this summer. This was something it had to do last year partly because of a lifeguard shortage.
This year, Cape May is still looking to fill about 20 positions.
Atlantic City is in a similar staffing situation with 30 positions to fill.
Avalon says it's also hiring.
Beach officials say the shortages are due to a lack of rental housing for those who want to work at the shore for the summer.
"You don't see a lot of seasonal rentals, so the kids from out of town they're having a really hard time to find a place to stay," Back says.
"You may have a great applicant in front of you that is asking you, 'Hey, where am I going to live?' And you really can't help them with that if they have no idea, no plan," says Steve Stocks, chief of Wildwood Beach Patrol.
In Wildwood, officials say they believe they will be fully staffed for the season. At $14 an hour, they're competing against Wildwood Crest and North Wildwood along with the businesses on the boardwalk.
"It's a slight bump, it's a slight raise from last year. We have to be competitive with the other businesses in town," Stocks says.
Each town from Atlantic City to Cape May varies in pay.
Atlantic City will pay $125 a day, whereas Stone Harbor will pay $163 per day.
Cape May is under contract to pay their lifeguards $13 an hour. Avalon will pay nearly $20 an hour.
Each beach patrol will hold tryouts in the next few weeks and say while they're looking to fill spots, the most important thing is the finding the right candidate.
"Part of our testing on June 11 of this year is an interview process, so we sit down with each candidate and that's where you really start to learn about their maturity level, their thinking ability, their cognitive abilities in terms of how they're going to perform under pressure," Back says.