Why the Lifeguard on Duty May Not Be a Teenager

It’s July and the dog days of summer have officially arrived which has young and old(ish) alike looking for a place to swim.  You may have noticed some gradual changes in staffing at your local community pool.  Student lives are tightly scheduled these days with athletics, academics and other activities; the summer jobs traditionally held by teenagers are starting to be filled by retirees looking to stay busy and earn a little extra money.

There is a shortage of lifeguards across the United States and communities are looking at alternatives to teenagers or young adults to staff pools.  And watch out kids, older adults are living longer and in better health and employers generally find them more reliable, with their own transportation and happy to have the work.

And it’s not just pools that are having difficulty finding summer staff.  With more college age students looking for higher paying or full time summer jobs to pay off student debt or seeking internships that will lead to more career opportunities, caddying, landscaping, painting, babysitting, dog walking and camp counselor jobs may soon be up for grabs as well.  According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, far fewer teens are looking for work today than they were in 2000.  And many of the lower-paying jobs in retail and food services once held by teenagers and being filled by older workers.

Not taking a summer job in favor of adding an extra class may not actually benefit students when it comes time to enter the workforce.  Graduates with no paid work experience may not have all the skills employers are looking for in a competitive environment.  And the experience of working low-paying jobs in the summer is a great motivator to work hard in the school months and train for a career that is both financially and personally fulfilling. 

But if the trend continues, and all evidence says it’s likely to, retirees will happily take a job doing something they enjoy and will benefit from the added income, social interaction and physical activity.