Friday, January 12, 2007

It Is a Small Pool ... and It Seems To Be Shrinking All the Time

So says Jill Zimmer, mayor of a small town in Oklahoma, regarding the applicants for a job as city manager. Ralph Blumenthal writes of a coming shortage in municipal governments in yesterday's New York Times. He notes:

Fractious politics and disdain for government, the limits of small-town life and pay, and the aging of baby boomers traditionally drawn to civic careers are making the job harder to fill, even as communities increasingly turn to such professional administrators to oversee budgets, services and personnel.

The shrinking pool of recruits is a forerunner of what some experts call a broader government talent shortage to come. With the bulging postwar generation nearing its retirement years, statisticians forecast a growing gap of unfilled executive and managerial jobs.
The demographic part of this issue is what has gotten most of the attention, as shown in this graphic:

The article notes that pay has already started to go up:
Would-be city managers have no special course of study, though about 300 colleges offer master’s degrees in public administration, public management, public affairs or public policy. About 60 percent of city managers have master’s degrees, many in business administration. But while the association’s figures show a marked increase in the average salary of a city manager — to $97,075 in 2005 from $75,675 in 1999 — higher pay for school and hospital administrators lures many potential applicants away.

There's no way to avoid the laws of economics on this one--wages in the public sector are going to continue to go up, and government entities will likely get by with lower staffing ratios.

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