Management & Labor

Survey Forecasts Better Public-Sector Job Market for 2014

Two-thirds of governments are expecting to hire this year, though not for very many positions.
by | February 19, 2014
A police officer talks to people about employment opportunities with the Prince William County (Va.) police department at a job fair in Washington, D.C.
A police officer talks to people about employment opportunities with the Prince William County (Va.) police department at a job fair in Washington, D.C. U.S. Army
 

Those looking for jobs with state and local governments may have somewhat better luck this year, although employers still don’t plan to do much hiring.

A new survey by the International Public Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR) finds the outlook for public sector employment improved marginally over the past year.

Of the mostly state and local employers surveyed, 66.2 percent reported they planned to hire for new positions in fiscal year 2014, with the majority expecting to expand payrolls by no more than 2 percent of the workforce. Last year, 61.6 percent of IPMA-HR members said they planned to create new positions.

Public safety represented the top category for job growth, with about 42 percent of those hiring expecting to fill new jobs. That’s not surprising, considering public safety personnel make up the vast majority of general-purpose government employees (not including education). Other departments employers expected to hire for included public works (25 percent), finance/management (21 percent) and parks and recreation (18 percent).

Only 10 percent of IPMA-HR members said they expected layoffs in fiscal 2014. That didn’t change much from last year, when 11 percent expected job cuts.

This year got off to a rough start for the public sector as governments cut 29,000 positions in January, the largest monthly decline since October 2012.

Rather than lay off workers, many governments dealt with tighter budgets in recent years by not filling vacant slots. Of those surveyed, 36.4 percent reported leaving vacancies unfilled for budgetary reasons; 50.4 percent were not leaving vacancies unfilled; 13.1 percent did not answer. That’s an improvement from last year, when 42.8 percent left vacancies unfilled.

When asked what measures they expected to take this fiscal year, here’s how public sector employers responded:

In conducting the survey, IPMA-HR surveyed 363 of its members earlier this year. Most respondents (80 percent) worked in local governments.

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