Survey: The Top Challenges for State and Local Government Workforces

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Connecting state and local government leaders

The Covid-19 pandemic caused cuts in benefits, pay freezes, furloughs and layoffs, but there have been some positive changes this year, according to a recent survey.

State and local governments continue to face a variety of workforce challenges due to the pandemic, including cuts in benefits, pay freezes, furloughs and layoffs. But this year there have been some positive changes such as the hiring of new and laid-off workers and permanent telework options, according to a survey by the Center for State and Local Government Excellence. 

One of the questions asked of government human resources professionals was about the type of workforce changes their agencies have implemented. The changes were categorized as positive or negative employment actions.  

Travel and training restrictions were the most common negative workforce implementation, with 67% of human resources respondents saying they enforced these difficult measures. Other negative employment actions that were reported include hiring freezes (35%), furloughs (19%), pay freezes (18%) and layoffs (15%). 

The survey also points to other workforce challenges that have affected the public sector this year. Issues surrounding recruitment, retirement plan changes, hard-to-fill positions, wage and benefit competitiveness and employee retention were highlighted in the survey as well.

The most common positive workforce change was the hiring of employees. Almost 75% of those surveyed said they have hired new employees, while 35% said they have hired temporary or contract employees. As compared with 2019, 42% said hiring full-time workers is lower this year, 40% said it is about the same, and 18% said hiring is increasing. 

Fifty-three percent of those surveyed said that they have offered telework during the pandemic, and about one-third said they have implemented permanent/long-term telework options, which was labeled as a positive employment action. Broad-based pay increases (20%), rehiring retired staff (19%) and rehiring furlough workers (14%) were some other positive actions respondents say they have implemented.    

The survey tracked key issues facing state and local governments and was conducted Feb. 25 to April 6. Respondents totaled 288, with 82% presenting localities. To see more details about the results click here

Brent Woodie is an associate editor at Route Fifty.

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