Jan 22, 2024 - News

City of Seattle freezes roughly 2,000 jobs

Illustration of a sign saying "Now Hiring" with the "w" crossed out and replaced with a "t."

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

The city of Seattle has implemented a hiring freeze for about 2,000 temporary and permanent jobs to reduce expenses and offset an impending budget shortfall, according to the mayor's office.

Why it matters: The freeze, effective immediately, is necessary to keep costs down this year and address the $229 million financial gap forecast for 2025, Jamie Housen, the director of communications for Mayor Bruce Harrell, told Axios.

  • The city faces more significant fiscal challenges in 2024 than were forecast when the budget was adopted, requiring immediate action, Housen told Axios.
  • Based on 2023 numbers, the city would have likely hired 800–900 regular (non-temporary) staff in 2024 and potentially another 1,100 temporary employees, per Housen.

Yes, but: This hiring freeze does not include job openings for first responders, such as police officers, firefighters and CARE department staff, along with other employees providing essential public services, according to the mayor's office.

By the numbers: As of August 2023, the city had 14,006 active employees, of whom approximately 6,320 had a base salary of $100,000 or more, according to the Seattle Times editorial board.

  • Data collected by Indeed indicates the average salaries for unfilled city jobs range from approximately $79,000 per year for a coordinator to $176,040 per year for a division chief.

What they're saying: "The City is taking a comprehensive approach to address the forecasted budget gap and structural budget issues, including thorough analysis of current City spending and an array of strategies to drive efficiencies, optimize investments, and prioritize the needs of residents, in collaboration with the City Council," Housen wrote in an email.

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