Wisconsin’s Public Sector Comes with a Low Cost, Compared to Other States

Monday, August 8, 2016 at 8:12 AM by

Wisconsin is leaner in most types of public sector jobs than all but a few other states, according to a review of employment figures by Governing.

Only three states have fewer public workers working in areas other than education than Wisconsin, according to the analysis. For every 10,000 state residents, Wisconsin has 199 public non-education employees. That’s less than half the number of public employees per population in Wyoming, which had the most public employees for its population size, and 50% less than the number of public employees per population in New York, Mississippi, and Alaska. Only three states had a smaller number of public employees than Wisconsin for their population size.

Wisconsin also ranked relatively low in payroll costs. For every $100,000 in personal income, Wisconsin governments spent $202 in March 2014 for non-education public employees. Only 11 states have lower payroll costs as a share of personal income. Read more

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Four Charts about Wisconsin’s Public Sector

Monday, February 1, 2016 at 8:44 AM by

1. Compared to other states, Wisconsin has a lean public sector

Wisconsin had 4.4 percent fewer state and local government employees than the national average given our population size, according to a new analysis from the Wisconsin Budget Project. Wisconsin had a leaner public sector than all but 11 states.

 Wisconsin has fewer public employees than most other states

 

2. The number of public employees in Wisconsin has declined over the last decade

Current levels of public employment in Wisconsin are significantly lower than they were a decade ago, relative to our population size. The number of public employees per Wisconsin resident has fallen about nine percent since 2001, as shown in the chart.

Number of public employees in Wisconsin has fallen over time

 

3. There are nearly three times as many local government employees in Wisconsin than there are state employees

There were 207,000 full-time equivalent employees working in local government in Wisconsin in 2014, compared to 72,000 in state government.

Most public employees are at the local level

4. Most public employees in Wisconsin work in education

Six out of ten government employees work in education, mostly in K-12 schools. Read more

Wisconsin Has Far Fewer State Employees than Most States

Tuesday, October 6, 2015 at 1:19 PM by

Governor Walker’s proposal to overhaul the state’s civil service system for state employees has been in the news recently, but missing from the conversation is the fact that Wisconsin has significantly fewer state employees and smaller payrolls than most states. If one of the goals of making changes to Wisconsin’s civil service system is to ensure that Wisconsin’s state government runs efficiently, advocates for the changes should know that Wisconsin already has a lean state government with relatively low costs.

The proposed changes to the state’s civil service system would loosen hiring and firing requirements for state employees, lengthen the probation period for new state employees, and eliminate bumping rights for more senior employees. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel describes some of the changes:

“The changes include dropping the exams that job candidates for state government are often required to take in favor of a résumé system and better defining the “just cause” definition of fireable offense such as stealing from the state or showing up to work drunk.

Read more

How Low is too Low? Wisconsin’s Public Sector is the Leanest in Two Decades

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 at 11:04 AM by

The number of government workers in Wisconsin compared to the state’s population has dropped to its lowest level in at least 20 years, according to a new Wisconsin Budget Project analysis.

Public employees in Wisconsin fill many roles. They patrol country roads, drive city buses, put out fires, immunize babies, and repair roads. Most of all, they teach our children: Six out of 10 public employees in Wisconsin work in education, mostly in K-12 schools.

Public employees also work close to home. Nearly 3 out of 4 public employees in Wisconsin work at the local government level.

There are far fewer of these public employees than there used to be. The number of state and local government workers per Wisconsin resident has dropped 10% from its peak a decade ago. Now only eight states have a leaner public sector for the size of their population. For every 100 state and local government employees per capita in other states, Wisconsin has only 94 employees. Read more

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Wisconsin’s Public Sector Leaner than in Most Other States

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 10:03 AM by
Wisconsin has fewer public employees for our population than most other states have, according to new figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. Wisconsin’s lean public sector is not a recent development; public employment in Wisconsin has been at lower levels than the national average for at least the last two decades.
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The Latest Assault on Public Employee Benefits: Prepaying Post-retirement Health Benefits

Monday, April 29, 2013 at 7:43 PM by

Legislative Proposals Squeeze Local Governments from Many Directions 

In Wisconsin and across the country, most government bodies finance the cost of post-retirement health benefits for their former employees on a pay-as-you-go basis.  A number of Republicans in the legislature want to change that and begin requiring local governments, including school districts, to pre-pay those benefits for any public employees hired after 2014. 

Evidently, the proponents of the change decided that converting to up-front financing of those benefits is working so well for the U.S. Postal Service that it’s time to do much the same thing for local governments.  Okay, that’s probably not their reasoning, and I have to confess that I’m not sure what their primary argument is.  However, a good State Journal article by Steven Verburg about the debate over the proposed legislation says that the bill’s proponents contend their intent is to protect workers from being cheated out benefits they have been promised. Read more

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Wisconsin Has One of the Leanest Public Sectors in the Nation

Wednesday, August 29, 2012 at 4:53 PM by

Wisconsin has its leanest public sector in nearly 20 years, new according to new figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.

An analysis by the Wisconsin Budget Project of the recently-released Census Bureau data shows that Wisconsin had 5.4 percent fewer state and local government employees per capita in 2011 than the national average, ranking 40th among the states. State and local employees include a wide variety of workers, including teachers, highway workers, corrections guards, firefighters, and police officers.

Only 10 other states had a leaner public sector than Wisconsin in 2011. While that might surprise some state residents, Wisconsin has had fewer state and local employees per capita than the national average for most of the last two decades.  Wisconsin had 49.6 state and local full-time equivalent positions (FTEs) per 1,000 residents in 2011, compared to a national average of 52.5 FTE, as shown in the chart below.

The difference between Wisconsin and other states has grown wider since the 1990s. Read more

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Wisconsin’s State Government Job Losses Lead the Nation

Friday, January 13, 2012 at 7:14 PM by

Wisconsin has lost a higher percentage of its state government employees than any other state, according to quarterly figures newly released by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Wisconsin had nearly 8,000 fewer workers in state government in June 2011 than in June 2010. There are currently about 225,000 unemployed people in Wisconsin searching for jobs.

Even before these job losses, Wisconsin had one of the leanest state governments in the nation. In 2010, Wisconsin ranked 42nd among the states in the number of state employees per capita, according to the most recent figures available. That means Wisconsin’s state government is nearly 10 percent smaller the national average, compared to our state’s population.

Over the past year, Wisconsin’s decline in state government has far surpassed the drop in any other state. Wisconsin lost 10 percent of its state government employees between June 2010 and June 2011. Louisiana, which lost the second largest amount of its state government workforce, shed only 6 percent of its state government workers. Read more

Five Things You Might Not Know About Public Employees in Wisconsin

Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 8:05 PM by

1. Compared to other states, Wisconsin has a lean public sector
In 2010, Wisconsin had 6 percent fewer state and local government employees relative to our population than the national average, according to an analysis of Census Bureau data. Wisconsin had a leaner public sector than all but 11 states in 2010, the most recent year for which there are figures.

The Wisconsin Budget Project has published an analysis of state and local government employment levels in Wisconsin and nationally, which can be found here.

2. Relative to our population, the number of public employees in Wisconsin has declined over the last decade
Between 2000 and 2010, the number of state and local government employees in Wisconsin relative to population declined by 4 percent. The chart below shows that there have year to year fluctuations, but the overall trend over the last decade has been downward in the size of our public sector relative to population. Read more

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Governor Proposes Two Year Pay Freeze for State Employees

Tuesday, October 25, 2011 at 7:57 PM by

There would be no cost of living adjustments to state employee salaries for the next two years, under a plan Governor Walker’s administration has submitted to a legislative committee.

A letter outlining the pay plan, sent from the Director of Office of State Employment Relations (OSER) to the Joint Committee on Employment Relations, can be read here. The actual compensation plan is also posted on the Office of State Employment Relations website, but be warned the file is enormous and takes a long time to load.

According to OSER’s letter, the compensation plan retains progression adjustments, some reimbursements, and some of the various types of supplemental pay that appeared in collective bargaining agreements. Some types of supplemental pay were eliminated, and calculations for determining overtime pay were changed. Senator Jeff Fitzgerald said that the changes would reduce overtime payments at the Department of Corrections by $5 million per year.

This pay freeze comes in the wake of significant compensation cuts for public employees, in the form of increased contributions to fringe benefit costs. Read more

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