State and local governments cut personnel, benefits
Hiring freezes, salary freezes, layoffs and furloughs top the list of ways that local and state governments are cutting costs, according to an online survey of government managers by the Washington-based Center for State and Local Government Excellence (CSLGE). At the same time, many report having difficulty filling some critical positions.
The survey was conducted among members of two groups of government professionals: the International Public Management Association for Human Resources and the National Association of State Personnel Executives (NASPE). Respondents said that jobs in engineering, skilled trades, information technology, health care, finance, law enforcement and top management are the hardest for local and state governments to fill. “It’s key that governments utilize workforce plans that consider future talent needs when they are making these difficult staffing decisions forced by the significant fiscal constraints they’re experiencing,” said NASPE Director Leslie Scott. “Our member states have noted that for the limited hiring that the states are currently doing, the applicant quality is higher, and it’s providing an opportunity to hire talented managers who may not have previously considered working for state government.”
Also, while 61 percent of respondents say that furloughs achieved the savings that had been budgeted, 39 percent said they did not. “Local and state governments face fiscal constraints for at least two more years, but they also face major talent challenges,” said Elizabeth Kellar, CSLGE president and CEO. “They must tighten their belts while keeping an eye on their aging workforce. Making sure they have the right people in place to provide critical services is just as important as balancing the budget.”
States and local governments also have made significant changes in their benefit offerings, such as increasing the amount employees contribute to healthcare plans and reducing benefits altogether, according to the survey. Sixty-nine percent increased employee contributions, while 10 percent decreased employer contributions. Other governments increased the 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); and tiered benefits (15 percent).
Read the full survey.