Friday, April 22, 2016

"Wisconsin state workers leaving in higher numbers as economy improves"

From JSOnline:

By Jason Stein of the Journal Sentinel

"Madison— The stream of workers leaving state agencies last year gushed at the highest level seen in at least a decade, driven by an improving economy that is making private employers more attractive in relation to their counterparts in government.

"Nearly one in eight employees left their state jobs last year for retirement, another job or other reasons, with one in five workers in some health care fields departing. In all, 3,600 workers outside of the University of Wisconsin System moved on from their state jobs in 2015, which was 23% more than 2014 and nearly twice as many as in 2010.

"The numbers, released to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel through an open records request, don't explain on their own why more workers are leaving or show that Wisconsin government is any worse than state governments around the country.

"It's clear that a big part of the trend can be explained by an improving economy that's giving workers more job opportunities than several years ago, when state employees hunkered down and generally didn't leave their jobs for reasons other than retirement.

"'We're seeing a definite trend in that it's difficult to recruit and retain state workers (nationally). It's due in significant part to compensation. In some parts of the country, it's not competing with market rates in the private sector,' said Leslie Scott, executive director of the National Association of State Personnel Executives.

"But the figures also add fire to an ongoing debate about whether stagnant wages and changes to union rules have made state government a less attractive employer to its workforce. Though controlling labor costs can be good for taxpayers, higher turnover, vacant jobs and the learning curve for new workers can also drive up overtime and training costs and affect public services.

"With the baby boom generation also hitting retirement age, the loss of experienced workers is likely to remain an issue for the state for some time to come. Citing that problem and the need for more efficient hiring practices, Gov. Scott Walker in February signed a broad overhaul of the state's century-old system of merit hiring and firing.

"'These reforms will allow us to better compete with the private sector and recruit the best and the brightest state employees to ensure we are providing high quality state services to citizens. These reforms also give agencies more tools to retain employees while allowing the state to hire more quickly and efficiently, which will help mitigate' departures, Walker administration spokeswoman Laurel Patrick said.

"During the Great Recession, new opportunities for workers and turnover in state government both plummeted, dropping in 2010 to 1,821 civil servants, or 6% of the state workforce, who left their non-university jobs for a variety of reasons, from retirements and resignations to terminations, layoffs and death. The figures don't include workers who took a different state job, and the numbers don't differentiate between resignations and firings.

"In 2011, Walker signed the law known as Act 10, repealing most union bargaining for most public workers and increasing state workers' benefit contributions by an amount equal to about 8.5% of take-home pay. That year, retirements jumped as employees sought to avoid fundamental changes to their retirement benefits, which didn't end up materializing. But with the recession still deep, relatively few employees resigned to take other jobs.

"The state offered across-the-board raises of 1% in 2014 and 2015, along with some merit increases for select employees, but no increases in the current two-year budget."

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This is why state government now moves slow as molasses.

1 comment:

kkdither said...

I can speak from the education part of state funded jobs. Our governor stuck his hands in and made a cesspool of it. He demonized good people to the public as greedy, union thugs. He took away our voice in the process with ACT 10. Our costs went up toward pension by the thousands per year. He cut funding to the point where people are tremendously overworked. The teachers with addional education and experience are leaving in droves. The university system has stated that not enough students are enrolling in education certification. A couple more years and we will be in serious trouble.