Struggling to find jobs, thousands apply for city positions

Since the current recession took hold, more people have been applying for city jobs. And despite a hiring freeze at City Hall, some departments still have managed to bring on new personnel, according to a recent report.

In the past two fiscal years, about 4,700 people applied for salaried and hourly city jobs, up from nearly 3,700 in fiscal year 2008-09. Of the thousands that applied, just 166 were hired in 2010-11, about 40 more than the year prior, according to the report. The bulk of the new hires are hourly workers that mostly do seasonal or temporary jobs, said Human Resources Director Matt Doyle.

The numbers show that there’s a desire to work for Glendale as unemployment remains high, according to the report. Officials expect Glendale’s double-digit jobless rate to last beyond any employment relief there may be nationwide.

The national unemployment rate fell to 8.6% in November, and in Glendale, the rate dropped to 10.1% in November, according to the California Economic Development Department.

Budget issues — including an $18-million budget gap this summer — have put hiring and employee benefits under the microscope as rising pension costs outpace city revenues.

“Since we’ve been in somewhat of a budgetary fix the past couple of years, all positions have been frozen. The only way to fill a position is to get a special request to the city manager,” Doyle said, adding that most requests are denied.

The tight finances have also reinvigorated negotiations with the city’s five employee bargaining units, according to the report. In the past, the city has created employee contracts on a multi-year basis, but a rough economy has made officials skittish about long-term agreements.

“Since the economy has been so poor, and since our revenue has presented such a problem, we’re hesitant to do something long term. Now every group is every year,” Doyle said, adding that a new union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, has further increased the bargaining workload.

The bargaining has generated some cost-saving measures, such as increased employee contributions to retirement benefits.

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