Governments Seeing Increase in Retirements

May 17, 2011 ( - Retaining staff needed for core services, reducing employee health care costs, and addressing employee morale and workload problems are the top workforce issues facing local and state governments, according to the latest survey conducted by the Center for State and Local Government Excellence.

The survey also found that 25% of respondents report that employees are accelerating their plans for retirement, and 71% say their workforce has shrunk since the 2008 economic downturn.   

“As they face hiring freezes, morale issues, layoffs, and accelerating retirements, more than 70 percent of state and local governments say staff development is a priority issue,” said Center President and CEO Elizabeth Kellar, in a press release. “This takes on added importance as you examine trend data.  The number of retirement-eligible employees who have moved up their retirement date has more than doubled in the last year.”  

Respondents report that they continue to have a hard time filling a number of positions, including engineers; environmental, chemical, and forensic credentialed professionals; finance; police and firefighters; information technology professionals; librarians; nurses and physicians;  middle and top management; skilled trades; and social workers.  

In addition, the survey found workforce changes most commonly recited are: 

  • Shifted more health care costs to employees (72%); 
  • Pay freezes (62%); 
  • Hiring freezes (54%); 
  • Layoffs (41%); 
  • Created wellness programs (33%); 
  • Shifted more health care costs to retirees (23%); and  
  • Raised contributions to pension plans (23%, new hires; 22%, current employees). 


The survey was conducted among members of the International Public Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR) and the National Association of State Personnel Executives (NASPE) from April 18 – May 3, 2011.  Three hundred and sixty-three (363) members took part in the survey. Of the members who responded to the electronic questionnaire, 80 percent work for local government; 14 percent for state government; .3 percent for federal government; and 6.1 percent for a non-government sector. Some questions elicited more responses than others.    

Read the full survey at