The Great Recession and the State and Local Government Workforce

Source: Center for State and Local Government Excellence, January 2010

From the summary:
Hiring freezes, pay freezes, layoffs, and furloughs top the list of ways that local and state governments are cutting costs, according to a Center for Excellence online survey of government managers.

States and local governments also have made significant changes in their benefit offerings.

– Changes in health and retirement plans
Half of the respondents, human resources professionals, report that their governments have made changes to their health care plans:
* Increased employee contributions (69 percent)
* Added number of years required to vest (25 percent)
* Added wellness programs, 24-hour nurse lines, or on-site clinics (25 percent)
* Reduced benefits (23 percent)
* Tiered benefits (15 percent)
* Decreased employer contributions (10 percent)

Among the 21 percent whose governments have changed their retirement plans, 73 percent say the changes have not affected current workers and 60 percent say the changes have not affected new hires.

– Critical positions go unfilled
There are signs that governments need a more strategic approach to their talent challenges. Survey respondents said they are struggling to fill certain critical positions, including jobs in engineering, skilled trades, information technology, health care, finance, law enforcement, and top management.

– Furloughs don’t always equal savings
Even furloughs have not produced the savings that had been anticipated in some places. While 61 percent of respondents say that they achieved the savings that had been budgeted, 39 percent said they did not.

– Fiscal constraints and talent challenges
The economic downturn has affected retirement plans, giving governments a little breathing room. Almost half (46 percent) of the survey’s respondents report that retirement-eligible employees are postponing their retirements.

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