By JUSTINE McGUIRE
Capital News Service
LANSING – This could be a good year to get a public sector job in parts of the country, according to the International Public Management Association for Human Resources.
But apparently not in Michigan.
The association’s new survey reveals that, nationally, more governmental bodies plan to hire for new positions while fewer plan on layoffs, compared to recent years.
The Michigan Municipal League, Michigan Townships Association and Michigan Civil Service Commission didn’t have statewide projections for hiring and layoffs in 2013.
Alpena and St. Ignace don’t plan on hiring or layoffs this year.
Kathy Himes, human resource specialist for Alpena, said the city has downsized its staff from 80 to 75 employees in the last four years.
The city still feels the effects of recession and isn’t in a position to take on more staff, Himes said.
The number of local government jobs in the state has been declining steadily since the recession hit in 2007 and is down by about 519,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
St. Ignace has also downsized in the past few years, but the city avoided layoffs by waiting for employees to retire and craftily combining positions.
For example, the city manager position has been combined with the superintendent of public utilities, and the clerk is now also the treasurer, said Renee Vonderwerth, city clerk and treasurer.
“We’re trying to work with what we have and do the best we can,” she said
On average throughout the year, the city has about 43 employees – five years ago the number was closer to 50, she said.
City Manager and Superintendent of Public Utilities Leslie Therrian said that in the past few years, the city left six jobs unfilled and combined three others with existing positions.
But, Vonderwerth said the city is maxed out on spreading the work around and combining positions.
Even so, she said, “We don’t plan on hiring unless we have to.”
Vonderwerth said the city manager and superintendent of public utilities won’t be combined forever and the reason it works now is that Therrian has been with the city for more than 32 years and can handle the workload.
But when he retires in a few years, the positions will have to be filled separately, she said.
The national survey received 370 responses from human resource departments, 77 percent from local governments, 11 percent from state governments, 1 percent from the federal government and 10 percent from special districts.
The association has been tracking hiring outlooks for nine years.
Before the national recession in 2007, 75 percent of all government agencies that responded to the survey planned on hiring. In 2010, 45 percent planned on hiring, and for 2013 it was 62 percent.
Layoffs have seen an opposite trend. In 2007, 12 percent planned on layoffs. In 2010, that proportion jumped to 32 percent. In 2013, it fell to 11 percent.
By JUSTINE McGUIRE