Wisconsin’s State Government Job Losses Lead the Nation
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. Nineteen states added jobs in state government during this period.
An article in the La Crosse Tribune today notes that much of Wisconsin’s drop in state employment was probably from retirements rather than layoffs — in which case new hires could cause a rebound in the coming months. Retirements are no doubt a significant factor, but the latest round of lapses from state agency budgets and UW System funding is likely to result in vacant postitions going unfilled and possibly also more layoffs. We’ll watch with interest to see whether or to what extent public sector employment rebounds over the next few months.