US states and local governments face a labor crisis

By Jack Aldane on 01/31/2022 | Updated on 01/31/2022

Photo by courtesy of Pexels

US state and local government employees are considering quitting their jobs in increasing numbers, according to new research, putting the sector at risk of a severe labor shortage.

A summary report by the MissionSquare Research Institute showed that more than half of all workers in the sector (52%) were considering quitting their job. The report is based on the results of a national survey of 1,100 state and local government employees, which was conducted between November and December 2021.

“The latest data from a survey of civil servants shows that they are more and more inclined to quit their jobs. But there are practical steps employers can take to stem quits as we enter the next phase of the pandemic,” he said.

The institute warned that this meant the United States was “on the brink of a public sector workforce crisis”.

The reasons given by respondents stemmed from the COVID-19 pandemic, with 58% of employees saying “the added stress of the pandemic” had caused them to consider leaving their position, while 52% gave security concerns. related to COVID as the main reason for their departure. . About 47% of employees said “rethinking what they wanted to do” was the top motivator.

[Read more: One in ten US staff sought new job after shutdown, official survey finds]

Other top reasons respondents gave for wanting to leave their job included wanting to change jobs in state and local government, retiring, or leaving the workforce altogether.

Those looking to change jobs or leave the workforce were found to be more likely to be under 40, of African American descent and at high risk of exposure to COVID-19 at work . Those planning to retire were typically 60 or older, earning at least $100,000 a year, and also at high risk of exposure.

About 42% of those considering retirement or leaving the workforce said they felt drained from the stress of their jobs during the pandemic, but overall the top reason employees wanted to change job (accounting for 52%) was the desire for “a better salary or a better benefits package”.

[Read more: Most US federal staff don’t feel safe from COVID at work, survey finds]

According to the summary, about 25% of those considering a job change would like to leave the public sector altogether.

Respondents report an increaseD workload

Six in 10 respondents said their organization had seen an increase in people voluntarily leaving their jobs since the start of the pandemic. About eight in ten people said that people leaving their jobs had increased their workload.

Participants were also asked what they thought governments could do to limit the effects of the “big quit,” a term that since the start of the pandemic has described a trend of people seeking to quit their jobs in various sectors of the American economy.

A large proportion of respondents (62%) suggested that improving wages could reduce the number of public employees willing to leave, while half suggested that increasing offer bonuses would have the same effect.

About 38% of respondents suggested that “greater appreciation and recognition of employees and the work they do” could lead to greater retention in state and local government. These factors have trumped more measurable incentives, such as improved benefits, increased time off, more flexible hours, or more remote work opportunities.

The institute has been tracking the sentiment of state and local government employees since the start of the pandemic. The latest results follow previous surveys conducted in May 2021, October/November 2020 and May 2020, which each assessed the impact of the pandemic on “financial and employment prospects and health and safety” of officials.

[Read more :Biden’s management agenda prioritises federal employee engagement]

According to MissionSquare’s summary, the final data used in the results was weighted by gender, age, income, and type of industry to reflect “state government workforce distributions.” and local communities as reported by the US Census Bureau Current Population Survey and the US Census of Governments”.

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