Layoffs, freezes, retirements for U.S. public sector: Survey

Workers concerned about public perception of government workers
||Last Updated: 04/20/2012

(Reuters) — More than one-half of local and state employees in the United States continue to work under pay freezes, while others are accelerating their retirements or facing the prospects of layoffs as the effects of the recession linger on the public sector, according to a recent survey.  

The survey of members of the International Public Management Association for Human Resources and the National Association of State Personnel Executives, found public employees also worry about their image.

Some 73 per cent of those surveyed said the "public perception of government workers" is a top concern, more those who listed staff retention, health-care costs and workload sizes.

When revenue collapsed during the recession, state and local governments slashed spending, often laying off workers and freezing job openings. Even though the downturn officially ended in 2009, revenue is only now inching higher in some places.

The pace of public job cuts is slowing, with 28 per cent of those surveyed reporting layoffs this year compared to 40 per cent last year. But more than one-fifth — 22 per cent — said employees had accelerated their retirements.

Altogether, nearly 70 per cent of those asked said their workforces are smaller than in 2008, and the leaner staffing could persist for a while, with 42 per cent reporting hiring freezes.

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