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State and Local Workers See High Value in Their Jobs Despite Stress, Survey Finds

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Despite high levels of stress on the job, many state and local workers say they highly value serving the public and their communities and feel generally satisfied with their jobs.

This finding, from a national survey commissioned by the National Institute on Retirement Security, will not surprise many AFSCME members, who work in state, county and local governments and never quit on their communities.

Other survey findings, which were reported this month, are a warning to politicians who seek to balance state and local budgets on the backs of the committed workers who educate our children, keep our neighborhoods safe, clean our streets and enable our communities to function.

For example, state and local workers consider benefits, more so than their salaries, the most important job features. They specifically view retirement benefits as a powerful recruitment and retention tool.

“State and local employees have mixed views on the competitiveness of their salary and compensation, but the vast majority agree they could earn a higher salary in the private sector, and a pension factors into the competitiveness of their compensation,” write the authors of the report, Kelly Kenneally and Tyler Bond.

Cutting benefits could drive them out of the public workforce, respondents said.

Politicians ought to take heed, especially at a time when state and local governments are finding it hard to fill positions.

“In recent years, state and local governments report that they continue to face steep challenges facing a wide array of positions, with policing, engineering, information technology, and emergency dispatch as the positions that are hardest to fill,” the authors write. “And the challenge of maintaining a strong state and local workforce is not expected to ease.”

Given the growing demand for a quality workforce in the public sector, elected officials should maintain and expand the benefits that come with the job. Unfortunately, in many states across the country, politicians, especially those who do the bidding of wealthy corporations and individuals, have been attacking public service workers and their unions.

Yet public service workers are more determined than ever to make their communities better by coming together in strong unions such as AFSCME. Having a voice on the job means they can protect their retirement security and other benefits, and also secure the resources necessary to provide quality public services for their communities.

Read the full report from the National Institute on Retirement Security here.