Local Government Employment, Benefits, and Retirement

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State and local governments face an array of workforce challenges in the wake of the recession. Layoffs, pay freezes, and an aging workforce are among the pressing realities that governments are working to address. This report takes a look at these issues and the most common workforce and benefit changes that local governments are implementing to address them. Key findings include:

  • Public sector employment is down 3 percent from 2008 (the 10-year peak) for all local government workers.
  • As a cohort, local public sector workers are more educated than their private sector counterparts. Twenty-three percent of local government workers have a master’s, professional, or doctorate degree, compared to 8.3 percent of private sector workers.
  • The most common retirement plan changes in 2012 for new hires, according to local government human resource respondents, was to increase age and service requirements for normal retirement and to reduce pension benefits. For current workers, 23 percent of those surveyed answered that current employee contributions to pension plans had increased over the past year.
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