Philadelphia will study its pay scale among thousands of job postings in the city

Philadelphia will hire an outside firm to study its pay scale for government employees as the city struggles to attract applicants to fill thousands of vacancies.

The city will spend up to $200,000 on a review it hopes to complete by the middle of next year. Officials are soliciting proposals from consultants and work on the study is expected to begin by the end of the year once a firm has been selected.

Once chosen, the company will assess the city’s competitiveness as an employer by reviewing city jobs and comparing the salary with similar jobs in other jurisdictions or industries.

The Philadelphia city government has long been one of the largest employers in the region, with more than 26,000 employees. But city workers, from police officers to librarians, have resigned or retired en masse amid the pandemic, leaving about one in seven jobs vacant this year.

The staffing issue has affected almost every department in the city and has complicated the delivery of basic services, including prison operations, building inspections and responding to 911 calls.

READ MORE: How Philadelphia City Government Understaffing Affects You

Amid the wave of departures, the pandemic has led to a shift in the labor market, shifts in the economy and a national shortage of workers. The private sector has attracted government workers by offering remote work, flexible hours and signing bonuses.

But critics say the city’s structured compensation plan has been less responsive to trends and has ultimately made it harder for the city to attract civil service workers – those who aren’t typically affected by managerial changes. elected officials – who make up around 80% of the workforce. They include police officers, firefighters, sanitation workers, parks workers and thousands more.

While the city regularly reviews compensation for individual job classifications, officials can’t recall the last time Philadelphia hired an outside firm to undertake a full-scale review of its compensation plan.

The outside company will not review every position in the Civil Service Compensation Plan, which includes minimum and maximum pay rates for all classifications of Civil Service workers.

Instead, it will identify “key benchmark positions” that can be used to easily compare salary data from out of town or other sectors. The firm may also review some exempt positions, including within the city’s legal department, which is particularly understaffed and struggling to fill vacancies.

» READ MORE: Philadelphia libraries struggle to stay open and short of hundreds of workers

City spokeswoman Joy Huertas declined to specify how many positions will be reviewed, saying, “We will meet with various internal stakeholders to finalize the scope and which positions we will focus on.”

Leaders of the unions that represent city workers, who negotiate wages and benefits for their members, say city wages are no longer competitive with large swathes of the private sector.

Bret Coles, spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees’ District 33 Council, which primarily represents blue-collar municipal workers, said the union “absolutely welcomes the study.”

“We know our members are grossly underpaid,” he said. “We already know what this will reveal. The big question is whether this will change anything. »

Denise W. Whigham