State, local governments payrolls to continue decline |

State, local governments payrolls to continue decline

John Seelmeyer

Local, state and federal governments employ more people in northern Nevada than all region’s retail establishments combined.

Government jobs proved to be about as stable as positions down at the mall in the last year, and more turmoil may lie ahead.

About 29,800 people hold government jobs in the Reno-Sparks area (one in six workers in the metro area works for government), and Carson City accounts for another 11,500 jobs. That’s a decline of about 700 jobs in the past year, and city and county governments have been especially hard hit.

Washoe County, for instance, has cut about 500 jobs, and most of its remaining workforce of approximately 2,700 took a 2.5 percent pay cut beginning in February.

County Manager Katy Simon says the reduced staff is likely to be the new reality.

“Our employment will not grow,” she says, looking into 2010 and the first half of 2011.

On the other hand, Simon says the county government will hire a few workers to fill vacancies that arise in public safety or positions that are legally mandated.

“We can’t continue to freeze every position that comes open,” she says.

City governments, too, are feeling the pinch.

The City of Sparks, for instance, is currently offering a voluntary separation plan to its employees. The plan, which offers 75 percent of their current salaries to participating employees, is designed to save as much as $2.7 million, says city spokesman Adam Mayberry. The city currently has 544 regular fulltime employees and 293 temporary employees, although Mayberry says the trend clearly is toward fewer jobs during 2010.

State employment, which accounts for about 8,000 jobs in Carson City and 10,200 jobs in the Reno-Sparks area, may be headed down as well.

Gov. Jim Gibbons this month told state department heads to develop plans to cut spending by 1.4 percent and 3 percent. A few weeks later, he asked them to look at even deeper cuts of 6, 8 and 10 percent.

The governor has said that more layoffs, temporary furloughs or pay cuts are likely.

But the number of jobs that might be cut remains unknown, and leaders of the Legislature say that layoffs should be the state’s final option.

State jobs account for 26 percent of all employment in Carson City.


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