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State and Local Governments Rely on Gig Economy to Fill Some Positions, Survey Says

State and local governments are using temporary workers to fill some vacant positions.

State and local governments are using temporary workers to fill some vacant positions. Shutterstock

 

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“Positions filled via the gig economy may include those that have a high degree of independent contractors available … or which lend themselves to temporary services," according to the 2018 state and local government workforce survey.

State and local governments are increasingly using part-time and temporary workers to fill key positions, according to new research from the Center for State and Local Government Excellence, or SLGE.

“Positions filled via the gig economy may include those that have a high degree of independent contractors available … or which lend themselves to temporary services,” including areas like IT support, office and administrative work and consulting, says the 2018 state and local government workforce survey, a joint venture between SLGE, the International Public Management Association for Human Resources and the National Association of State Personnel Executives.

The three organizations polled more than 6,800 of their members along with hundreds of public human resources professionals for the survey, which was first administered in 2009.

Top concerns among workforce professionals included staff recruitment and retention (82 percent) and employee morale (80 percent), both up significantly from 2012 (when those topics came in at 39 and 67 percent, respectively). Officials also expressed concern about the public perception of government workers, which can “impact the ability to attract talented new job candidates into the public service profession,” the data says.

On the whole, hiring freezes and layoffs appear to have decreased significantly. In 2009, 68 percent of respondents said freezes were a concern, along with 42 percent worried about layoffs. Just 8 percent of those surveyed said they were a concern this year. Retirements have increased in that same time period—44 percent of respondents said retirements in the most recently completed year were up from the year before, while the number of eligible employees postponing their retirements has fallen by half since 2009.

The combination of an improving economy and increasing attrition means that certain positions remain difficult to fill, including police officers, engineers, network administrators, emergency dispatchers and accountants.

“One of the questions that arises from the workforce research is why government agencies are having trouble filling certain positions,” the survey says. “One factor is the low unemployment rate, but another may be the long-term impact of retirement plan cuts or other changes on their competitiveness with private sector employers.”

And while temporary and part-time workers can alleviate recruitment concerns for some positions, others continue to struggle with recruitment. Police jobs are the hardest to fill, according to 27 percent of survey respondents, but none of those vacancies have been staffed via the gig economy. By contrast, nearly half of respondents said they had relied on temporary workers to staff open accounting positions.

View the entire survey and data set here.

Kate Elizabeth Queram is a Staff Correspondent for Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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