Survey Forecasts 2015 Public-Sector Employment

Most local governments expect to hire some workers, but more will not only continue to leave vacancies unfilled but also anticipate an uptick in layoffs.
by | February 18, 2015
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Most governments expect to hire some workers for newly created positions this year. But they’re also still leaving vacant positions unfilled as a result of tight budgets, according to a survey released today.

The International Public Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR) surveyed more than 1,000 of its members to gauge the employment outlook for 2015. For the most part, the survey found employers don’t expect much change from last year.

It's unlikely the sector will see a significant acceleration in hiring. Two thirds of respondents, most of whom represent local governments, plan to hire for new positions this year, the same tally as in 2014. Of those hiring, the majority (58 percent) plan to expand their workforce by less than 1 percent.

While there may be a limited amount of hiring, many governments still aren’t in a position to fill slots that have remained vacant, often for years, as a result of recession-era cutbacks. According to the survey, 89 percent of responding governments plan to leave some vacancies unfilled for budgetary reasons. Another 16 percent expect layoffs to occur this year, up slightly from 10 percent in 2014.

While the survey doesn’t suggest major changes from 2014, the results still represent notable improvements from prior years. In 2010, just 45 percent of surveyed employers reported hiring for newly-created jobs.

Growth in state and local government employment has been among the slowest of any sector in recent months.

The fact that other sectors of the economy are expanding, though, is certainly good news. If strong private sector growth continues, the resulting revenues should eventually help fund some of the jobs that were cut in the immediate aftermath of the recession.

The IPMA-HR survey also found that 77 percent of responding governments plan to issue pay increases, the same percentage as last year.