State And Local Government Workforce: 2013 Trends

Annual survey finds top concern is staff development as improving economy hastens retirements

May 14, 2013, 18:02 ET from Center for State and Local Government Excellence

WASHINGTON, May 14, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As local and state government workers head for the exits, human resources managers say their top concern is staff development. 

"State and Local Government Workforce:  2013 Trends," the annual survey conducted by the Center for State and Local Government Excellence ( and the International Public Management Association for Human Resources ( of human resource professionals, finds that the pace of state and local government retirements continues to be high. Three hundred and twenty-three (323) IPMA-HR members took part in the survey, which was conducted in March and April 2013.

There are signs that the improving economy has begun to reach state and local governments, as they ease up on layoffs and compensation freezes imposed since the economic downturn of 2008.  Key survey findings include:

  • 33 percent report pay freezes, compared with 51 percent in 2012
  • 18 percent report layoffs, compared with 28 percent in 2012
  • 27 percent report hiring freezes, compared with 42 percent in 2012

Other findings include:

Twenty-two percent of retirement-eligible employees accelerated their retirement date in 2013, the same as 2012. 

The number of governments making changes to health and retirement benefits remains high, with 56 percent modifying health benefits in 2013 and 44 percent making changes to retirement plans.

The change most often cited was to shift more health care costs from the employer to employee (reported 52 percent of governments that made changes).  Twenty-eight percent of governments that made changes created wellness programs. 

Twenty-nine percent of governments that had made changes to their pension plans increased current employees' contributions; 34 percent of these governments increased employee contributions for new hires only. 

Increases in retirement age and service requirements for new hires were reported by 26 percent of respondents whose governments had made changes to the retirement benefit they offer. 

"As more employees are retiring, state and local governments are giving more attention to staff development and retaining top talent," noted Elizabeth Kellar, President and CEO of the Center for State and Local Government Excellence.  "One respondent emphasized the need for succession planning for the 'huge retirement bust' while others list a growing number of positions that have been difficult to fill.  So far, these talent challenges are largely invisible to the public."

"While it's good to see that the economy is improving, state and local government employment, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, continues to decline," added Neil Reichenberg, IPMA-HR executive director. "The economic recovery remains uneven and, with the impact of the federal sequestration still being uncertain, state and local governments face continued challenges. There is a need to invest in workforce development and focus on the retention of employees, especially those in hard-to-fill occupations."

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About the Center for State and Local Government Excellence
The Center for State and Local Government Excellence helps state and local governments become knowledgeable and competitive employers so they can attract and retain a talented and committed workforce. The Center identifies best practices and conducts research on competitive employment practices, workforce development, pensions, retiree health security, and financial planning. The Center also brings state and local leaders together with respected researchers and features the latest demographic data on the aging workforce, research studies, and news on health care, recruitment, and succession planning on its website,

SOURCE Center for State and Local Government Excellence