Free Market

Why Your Local Pool Is Having a Hard Time Staying Afloat—No Pun Intended

With Utah’s scorching hot summer in full effect, many families eagerly search out ways to escape the heat. One of the most popular ways to achieve this is to flock to the neighborhood pool. Unfortunately, when many of these families arrive at such pools, they are being turned away. 

Just like many other businesses across the state, pools are falling victim to a labor shortage that is forcing many establishments to close their doors or greatly reduce their hours of operation. The severity of this shortage is demonstrated by nearly eight out of ten parks departments, including those in Utah, lacking the appropriate staff.

This shortage does not greatly differ from labor shortages at other local businesses. David Gray, who runs Human Resources at Lagoon Amusement Park, even said, “There have been a lot of articles that there is a lifeguard shortage, and I find that interesting because to me, there’s not a lifeguard shortage. There’s a labor shortage.” In fact, the state’s lifeguard shortage and labor shortage are caused by a similar set of factors including fallouts from the COVID-19 pandemic and extreme government regulation in the form of occupational licensing restrictions.

While some of these issues, like the residual effect of the pandemic, cannot be immediately remedied, issues surrounding occupational licensing can. Occupational licensing often necessitates large and unnecessary requirements in order for individuals to legally practice a profession. Such requirements, like the thirty-six hours of course time required for lifeguards, can disincentivize individuals from seeking employment in such fields. This can leave employers with large shortages that can become cumbersome to families and other consumers.

States can immediately begin to reduce occupational licensing restrictions by either completely eliminating unnecessary licenses or by greatly reducing the restrictive requirements often associated with occupational licensing. Consumers deserve to be able to partake in their favorite pastimes without inconvenient closures, and workers deserve to earn a living without jumping through unnecessary hoops.