Labor and Employment

CSG Midwest
Ask employers what their biggest challenges are, and one of the first responses will often be the difficulty in filling jobs with qualified workers. Ask policymakers what the biggest challenges facing their state’s economy are, and it won’t be long before they mention the need to build a trained workforce — one that can fill good-paying jobs and enable individual economic mobility.
This policy challenge is particularly acute in regard to middle-skill jobs — those requiring more than a high school diploma, such as an associate’s degree, certificate or other postsecondary credential, but not necessarily a bachelor’s degree. Last year, in fact, none of the 10 fastest-growing occupations required bachelor’s degrees, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Workers could instead qualify for these jobs through such means as skills certificates, on-the-job training or apprenticeships.
In an effort to match state policy with these labor-market realities, new legislation is being introduced and innovative programs are being implemented across the Midwest that target middle-skill jobs and workers.
CSG Midwest
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ “Employee Benefits Survey,” 76 percent of the nation’s part-time private-sector workers and 26 percent of full-time employees had no access to paid sick days in 2014. In the Midwest, 43 percent of all full- and part-time workers do not have paid sick leave — the highest percentage of any U.S. region.
In 2012, Connecticut became the first state to mandate paid sick leave. Under its law, which applies only to non-exempt workers in certain service occupations, employers with 50 or more employees must provide a minimum of one hour of paid sick leave per 40 hours worked (after an initial 680 hours of employment), with a maximum accrual of 40 hours per year. California and Massachusetts are the other two states with laws requiring paid sick leave. Their laws take effect July 1 and require an initial 90-day employment period before accrued sick leave can be used.
CSG Midwest
In 2014, year-over-year unemployment rates fell in all 50 states. That hadn’t happened since 1984, and the news was greeted as another positive sign of economic recovery. But there is another trend getting more attention from economists and state policymakers: the continuing decline in rates of labor participation.

At its peak in August 2008, state government employment stood at 5.21 million, or about 3.8 percent of total nonfarm employment. Over the next five years, state governments shed 187,000 jobs, landing at 5.03 million in July 2013. As of December 2014, state governments had regained 53,000 positions since hitting the July 2013 low, but have only recovered a little more than one quarter of the positions lost since the August 2008 peak.

Steve Brophy, vice president of government affairs for Dollar General, developed a program in California to address unemployment among veterans and brought it to Tennessee when he made the move from the west coast.  While attempting to fill vacant positions, he discovered Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a national program supporting states' investment in employment opportunities for active duty military and veterans.  The Paychecks for Patriots program grew and launched in 2012 to offer an opportunity for veterans to attend local job fairs across Tennessee with a chance for on-the-spot hiring.

CSG Midwest
The third Great Lakes state in four years has passed so-called “right to work” legislation, a trend that has captured national headlines because of the region’s tradition as a union stronghold. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed SB 44 into law in March.
 

According CSG's analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, at its peak in August 2008 state government employment stood at 5.21 million, or around 3.8 percent of total nonfarm employment. Over the next five years, state governments shed 187,000 jobs, landing at 5.03 million in July 2013. As of December 2014, state governments had regained 53,000 positions after hitting a low in July 2013, but have only recovered a little over one-quarter of the positions lost since the August 2008 peak.  In December 2014, state government employment made up 3.6 percent of total nonfarm employment.

During and after the Great Recession, job losses in the private sector were more pronounced than losses to state government employment. For example, from Dec. 2007 – Dec. 2008, private sector employment contracted by 3.2 percent and from Dec. 2008 – Dec. 2009, it fell by 4.5 percent. For state government employment, losses did not begin until 2009, when employment fell by 0.8 percent (Dec. 2009-Dec. 2010), 0.3 percent (Dec. 2009 – Dec. 2010) and 1.8 percent (Dec. 2010 – Dec. 2011).

According CSG's analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, throughout 2014, state government employment grew by 0.5 percent overall compared to 2.6 percent growth in the private sector. State government employment grew in 32 states, remained the same in four states and shrunk in 14 states.

According CSG's analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 21.9 million government workers in December 2014, or 15.6 of total nonfarm employment. Nearly two-thirds of government employment is at the local level and 55 percent of local government jobs are in education. About one-quarter of government employment is at the state level and 12 percent is at the federal level.

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