Still Curious About State Workforce Numbers

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Brian Mooney penned a piece for the Globe last week discussing how state workforce numbers has declined. Its a topic we raised 17 months ago, so its great to see Mr. Mooney’s interest.

ANF Sec’y Gonzalez provides data to Mooney that demonstrates that the executive branch has reduced its budget funded workforce by roughly 1,600 jobs since Governor Patrick took office. They’ve also explained it in the Governor’s budget as well.

For my own analysis, I rely on the CAFR put out by the Comptrollers’ office, given ANF’s notoriously tight-fisted hold on giving information about headcount to the public. Unfortunately, that data only goes up to FY09 and its shows an overall increase in state workforce and (as near as I can tell with some significant imprecision) in the executive branch specifically.

From the limited information I was able to wring out of HRD, it appears that almost all of the headcount reduction comes as a result of layoffs in FY10, as it appears that the layoffs in previous years were subsumed by new hiring.

Mooney would be well-served in future articles to follow up on a few of the loose ends left in his piece:

– When and where did layoffs occur? What has the net impact been?
– Why the discrepancy between the BLS “state gov’t” numbers and the state’s disclosed data? ‘Its just a survey’ is not a satisfying answer. Are the quasi-publics really adding a lot of headcount during the recession? Or is this some form of stimulus spending that is off the state’s books?
– The most significant jump in employment since 2000 is at public higher ed (+2674 FTEs per the CAFR). The explanation seems to be that work-study students weren’t included in the payroll until 2008. But if the measure is FTEs, shouldn’t the impact of these employees be much smaller than the actual increase in jobs?