David J. Phillip / AP

TSA Braces for 4% Increase in Summer Travelers Amid Staffing Woes

Low pay and limited career opportunities are contributing to high turnover at the agency, investigators have found.

The Transportation Security Administration is planning to boost its staff by more than 2,000 officers as it heads into what it predicts will be the busiest summer travel season it has experienced.

In addition to the staff increases, TSA will provide a 20% increase in overtime funds and has deployed new technology and extra canine passenger screening teams, the agency said in a statement. Officials expect travel volume from Memorial Day through Labor Day to increase by 4% over last summer, translating to an additional 10 million passengers to check.

“This summer we’re expecting to screen over 2.7 million travelers on peak days,” said Patricia Cogswell, acting deputy administrator at TSA, in the statement. “Our dedicated transportation security officers, inspectors, air marshals, and support personnel are working around the clock to ensure traveler security during this record breaking travel season.”

The anticipated boom in summer travel comes as the agency is under pressure to reduce high staff turnover. About one in four of the new screeners that TSA hires quit within six months, the Homeland Security Department inspector general found in a recent report. The IG  and a blue ribbon panel that issued a separate report found that low pay and lack of career opportunities are driving the high attrition rates.

TSA Administrator David Pekoske, who currently serves as the temporary deputy secretary at DHS, has told lawmakers he recognizes the problem and will address pay issues by June 30.