State and Local Government Workforce: 2019 Survey

July 25, 2019

Center for State and Local Government Excellence (SLGE)

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T he Center for State and Local Government Excellence (SLGE) has partnered with the International Personnel Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR) and the National Association of State Personnel Executives (NASPE) to conduct an annual survey of public sector human resources professionals since 2009. Survey questions are focused around the workforce changes and challenges their organizations face and the initiatives they put in place to better serve their hiring and retention needs for the future.

Based on responses from 335 public human resource professionals, this survey tracks hiring and layoffs as key indicators. While hiring has changed modestly in recent years, the share of respondents indicating they have instituted layoffs has dropped from 42 percent in 2009 to 7 percent in 2019. Looking at longer-term employment projections, both state and local workforces are anticipated to increase, with a projected growth of 3.8 percent among state employees and 7.4 percent among local employees from 2016 to 2026.

Benefits continue to be both a key strength for state and local government (with 88 percent indicating their benefits are competitive in the labor market), and an area for continued changes and experimentation. Some of those changes are in the form of adjusting employer/employee contributions to retirement or health care costs, while others have been more non-economic, such as flexible work schedules (51 percent).

The gig economy is a particular focus for this year’s survey, with respondents indicating both the overall share of the workforce that such workers represent and the impacts on the organization as a whole (e.g., 3.6 percent indicating a significant increase in management flexibility and a total of 10.1 percent indicating a decrease in employee morale).

Finally, as organizations work to attract and retain skilled workers, they have found a variety of approaches to be of value, ranging from a focus on online advertising (83 percent) and social media (51 percent) to employee development programs such as in-house training (67 percent), onboarding (53 percent), and paid family leave (21 percent).

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