I recently attended Governing’s Outlook in the States & Localities Conference in D.C. to continue my own education on the public workforce and how it’s impacted by current events. I would equate the abundance of info to watching the news of the past year in fast-forward. It is quite overwhelming. But every year I come back to this event because its where you’ll find the best info.
I was disheartened, but not shocked, to hear 2016 will even further stretch resources including the work done by our public servants as in years past. As the topic of labor was danced around, but not quite addressed, the mere mention of rising costs of healthcare (2016 HHS spend in state & local government to increase 5-6%) and pensions (currently a $1T shortfall in state & local government) will no doubt keep hiring at low levels. And by low levels, they mean from as far back as 2009. According to Governing, local governments have fared the worst with this steady decline in employment.
A shortage of employees at any organization hurts. Yet in government it has an added sting, because the people who really suffer are those who need it most. As long as programs can’t be run due to a lack of resources, and there are citizens who rely on these services, it will continue to create a negative effect on society. Scrutiny around operational inefficiencies within government will continue to grow and could even cause some distrust.
Let’s make 2016 the year we take a deeper look at costs, including labor, and find ways to bring some of our programs back.