Press Releases February 28, 2023

5BORO Institute Releases Roadmap to Address Municipal Staffing Shortage

Press Contact:

New York, NY – Today, the 5BORO Institute released its inaugural report Solving the Staffing Crisis: Saving City Government for New Yorkers, proposing a series of recommendations to address retention, recruitment, and internal workforce policies to rightsize City government.

New York City government is facing a staffing crisis. Municipal employees have resigned by the thousands, leaving 23,000 vacant positions across the City workforce and vacancy rates approaching 20% in critical agencies that support some of the city’s most vulnerable residents. This has already had wide-reaching impacts, impeding the delivery and quality of services to New Yorkers and delaying the fulfillment of legal mandates and key commitments.

The report also examines the critical service impediments caused by New York City’s municipal staffing crisis and the driving forces behind it, which include lack of hybrid work flexibility, growing burnout and low morale, higher pay in other sectors, lengthy hiring times, delays in promotions and confusing applications processes.

Mayor Adams recently announced the creation of a committee to explore flexible and remote work options as part of the City’s contract agreement with the municipal union DC37. This is a move in the right direction, but there is still more to be done.

In an effort to address the City’s staffing challenges and ensure New York City has a strong and effective government, the 5BORO report Solving the Staffing Crisis: Saving City Government for New Yorkers has put forth the following recommendations:

1. Curb the departure of City employees with strategies focused on retention

  • Designate a Chief Retention Officer
  • Facilitate annual reviews and exit interviews
  • Proactively track and address staffing trends and performance
  • Build morale and cultivate a mission-driven culture

2. Recruit the next generation of City workers to fill gaps

  • Designate a Chief Recruitment Officer
  • Identify and prioritize offices with the greatest staffing needs
  • Provide recruitment support for hard-to-recruit roles
  • Market the City’s mission-driven workplace
  • Offer incentives for joining government
  • Implement creative interim solutions to ease staffing burdens

3. Update City employment policies to build a 21st-century workforce

  • Provide balanced hybrid flexibility
  • Make applying easy
  • Speed up the time it takes to hire
  • Provide fair compensation and promotion opportunities

“As we emerge from the pandemic, City Hall has ambitious goals that cannot be achieved unless we first solve the municipal staffing shortage.” said Grace Rauh, Executive Director of the 5BORO Institute and an author of the report. “While longer-term structural changes are needed to further improve hiring, the recommendations put forth in our report can be deployed immediately to bring top talent into government and keep effective employees from leaving, ensuring New York City remains a beacon of hope and opportunity for decades to come.”

“While the City must prepare for uncertain economic times, the service impacts we’ve seen as a result of staffing shortages demand immediate attention,” said Richard Ravitch, co-chair of the 5BORO Institute board and former Lt. Governor of New York. “By following comprehensive retention and recruitment strategies, we can rightsize City government so that we balance the need to solve this staffing shortage with the need to exercise fiscal restraint.”

A strong and effective government is required to implement innovative policies and programs to improve New York. It’s imperative that the City resolve the staffing crisis in order to address the challenges facing New York City and seize new opportunities for the city.


The 5BORO institute is a think tank dedicated to advancing innovative and implementable solutions to tackle NYC’s most challenging problems. From ideation to implementation, we speak directly to policymakers by producing digestible research to push NYC forward. Learn more at: