Research shows double whammy of hiring struggle, retirement boom

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (SHNS) – State and local governments are having a hard time recruiting and retaining people to take jobs in health care and corrections and policing, and more retirement-age workers are accelerating their retirement plans than any year since 2009, new research from the Center for State and Local Government Excellence found.

Of the state and local government human resources offices that responded to a survey, 75 percent said it has been hard to fill nursing positions at boards of health, state or local hospitals and schools, and 64 percent said it has been hard to fill jobs in policing and corrections. And while governments struggle to hire new workers, the workers they already have are, in many cases, preparing to retire.

The Center for State and Local Government Excellence report found that 38 percent of governments said their retirement-age workers were accelerating their retirement timelines while 22 percent of governments said their retirement-eligible workers were postponing their departures.

It was the first time since the survey began in 2009 that retirement accelerations outpaced postponements, the center said.

“Clearly, the pandemic is having a tremendous impact on the state and local workforce, which was already facing long-term challenges,” lead researcher Gerald Young said. “Overall, the data shows that recruiting and retaining workers is only getting harder at a time when the pandemic is accelerating retirement. On the upside, we are seeing increased telework and other flexible scheduling arrangements. This can help with employee recruitment and retention for employers who cannot offer higher salaries.”

The report is based on the results of a survey conducted online from Feb. 25 through April 6.

Human resource professionals from 288 public jurisdictions that belong to the International Public Management Association for Human Resources and the National Association of State Personnel Executives provided the responses.

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