The annual recruitment survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development last year found 89% of public sector organisations had difficulty recruiting staff, compared to 60% in 2000.
The figures compare to 77% of all organisations reporting difficulties with finding suitable recruits.
Twice as many public sector employers as private attributed part of their recruitment problem to poor public image.
The image problem may be 'linked to an historical lack of investment in the public sector', she added.
'However, as the share of government expenditure on the public sector continues to increase over the next few years, the gap between the public and private sectors may narrow.'
The two most common causes of recruitment difficulties are lack of experience, reported by 55% of employers, and lack of skills, 54%.