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Nonprofit social services provide essential services for a broad swathe of New Yorkers, yet these organizations face significant workforce retention and recruitment problems. When social services organizations are unable to retain workers or fill vacant positions, the disruptions in direct services can be devastating for New Yorkers who rely on them. Social services work can be high-stress and offer inadequate and unequal wages and benefits, with unclear career advancement pathways.
This report from the Center for New York City Affairs outlines concrete steps that can be taken to invest in these essential workers by building robust career ladders, addressing pay disparities among workers, and raising the compensation of nonprofit workers to aid in retention and recruitment. The ongoing public health emergency and economic dislocation make clear the need to invest in essential social service workers whom we rely so heavily on, not only in emergencies but also day in and day out. This report reviews pre-pandemic staffing trends and challenges in the nonprofit social services sector and makes the policy case for a sector-wide social services career ladder that will be essential in post-pandemic New York.
James A. Parrott is Director of Economic and Fiscal Policies at the Center for New York City Affairs at The New School.
Lina Moe is a research assistant at the Center and a graduate student in economics at the New School for Social Research.
Sierra Lewandowski is a research assistant at the center and a graduate student in public and urban policy at the Milano School of Policy, Management and Environment.