PHILADELPHIA—A new analysis by The Pew Charitable Trusts finds that Philadelphia’s civil service regulations offer its hiring managers less flexibility than their counterparts in many of the nation’s most populous cities, potentially limiting the infusion of new talent into the ranks of city government.
Pew performed the study at the request of Philadelphia officials, and the resulting report, “Hiring and Employment in Philadelphia City Government,” describes the city’s hiring procedures, the issues connected with them, and how other large cities are handling similar concerns. The report also analyzes the demographic composition of Philadelphia’s municipal workforce and compares it with the city’s overall population.
Interviews with over 40 Philadelphia officials produced a portrait of the city’s hiring and promotion practices as cumbersome, inflexible, and slow. The research showed that from 2013 to 2015, the median time between an individual submitting an application and getting selected for a position was 360 days—and some applicants sat on waiting lists for up to two years. As a result, some of the most desirable candidates were no longer available by the time a job offer could be made. Other key findings of the research:
“Philadelphia, like many U.S. cities, faces the challenge of attracting top talent and diversifying its municipal workforce while complying with long-standing regulations that can restrict the pool of candidates,” said Katie Martin, a researcher with Pew’s Philadelphia research initiative and the report’s co-author. “The challenge now is for the city to figure out how best to compete for the talent its workforce will need in the years ahead while adhering to the goal of fair, meritocratic hiring practices.”
The Pew Charitable Trusts is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today’s most challenging problems. Pew’s Philadelphia research initiative provides timely, impartial research and analysis on key issues facing Philadelphia for the benefit of the city’s residents and leaders.