State work force down almost 10% in three years

Monthly employment report: 6,409 gone since June ’08 – 1,295 of them ‘employer-initiated layoffs’

August 20, 2011 

The number of employees in the state’s executive branch has fallen nearly 10 percent since the recession began three years ago and forced the Legislature to make deep cuts in nearly every part of government.

The number of full- and part-time workers in the executive branch, which includes most general government agencies – was 60,305 in July, the Department of Personnel reports in its latest monthly head count.

That is 401 people fewer than the 60,706 on the payroll June 30, the end of the state’s fiscal year, and reflects some of the cuts the Legislature made early this year to close a $5 billion shortfall.

The total represents another drop in a steady trend since 2008, when the first chill of the Great Recession was about to frost Washington and prompt hiring freezes and later budget cuts. The Personnel Department says the state had 66,714 people on the payroll at the end of June 2008.

That is a decline of 6,409 people, or almost 10 percent, in the general government head count, over roughly three years.

Personnel’s monthly report says the much-criticized Washington Management Service work force, also known as classified management, also has fallen from 7.9 percent of the work force in fiscal year 2006 to 6.7 percent in the just-completed fiscal year, despite fewer workers overall.

Including at-will and WMS managers, the overall management ranks made up less than 12 percent of the work force, and 88.4 percent were in the classified employee category.

The monthly report said yearly pay now averages $53,400 for full-time workers; the median (with equal numbers above or below), was $50,304.

There have been 1,295 “employer-initiated layoffs” since July 1, 2008, which indicates the extent to which agencies used attrition to thin the ranks. Of the 3,604 people given layoff notices, about 2,309 did not lose employment – because 1,550 accepted a job change, 389 were demoted, and others took temporary jobs or other positions.

There was other staff turnover in the past fiscal year, with 9.6 percent leaving the work force, the highest percentage in any of the past five years. That included 2.7 percent by retirement, 4.8 percent by resignation, just 0.9 percent by layoff, 0.2 percent by dismissal, and 0.1 percent by other causes. The share of resignations and retirements was the highest in five years also.

As of July, women held slightly more than half the jobs, or 50.6 percent. Minorities made up 18 percent of the work force, and people with disabilities made up 3.3 percent. The average age of a state employee was 47, the share of workers age 40 or older was 72 percent, and the average length of a worker’s service was 11.4 years.

As of July 31, the legislative branch had 718 employees (by head count including part-time) and the judicial branch had 611.

Decline in executive branch positions 2008-2011

June 2008 66,714

July 2011 60,305

Change -6,409


Figures are for general government agencies and do not include legislative or judicial employees.

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