So far, the 21st century has been an interesting time to work for a city.
On one hand, urbanism is having a moment in the sun as young residents flock back to downtown areas where planners are rushing to build new mixed-use housing and reclaimed wood-framed office space. At the same time, technology is overhauling the way people get around cities (Uber), access space in cities (Airbnb) and consume food in cities (Postmates).
Meanwhile, cities themselves have underlying issues brewing. Boom-and-bust economic cycles have decimated general funds in many areas, leading to speculation about a “new normal” marked by cash-constrained local governments. With cities in the red, public-private partnerships — or even outright privatization of services such as supplying water — are a constant topic of discussion.
If that wasn’t enough, the slow breaking wave of global anxiety about climate change is also making its way to major cities, many of which are putting together their own action plans in the face of lukewarm national and international commitments.
One area that has been less explored: what all this might mean for the public sector job market.
Historically a bastion of stable middle- to upper-middle-class jobs with stable benefits, the leadership positions that cities look to fill increasingly mirror private sector organizations looking to keep pace with digitization.
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