More government jobs, but at what wage?

South Dakota State Roundup

Published May 1, 2005  | May 2005 issue

The state Legislature balanced the coming year's budget by decreasing employee pay raises; meanwhile, it added several hundred new employees.

The budget authorized 325.1 full-time equivalent positions, each of which amounts to 40 hours per week for a year. More actual employees may be providing that work. Most of the jobs, 222.5 in total, will be in the state's growing public university system. Many of these jobs will be research positions and new staff for doctoral programs the state wants to encourage.

Some of the other jobs are actually cost-saving devices, intended to cut back on overtime and replace contract and temporary workers. But the state's main human resources budget maneuver was to reduce annual pay raises for existing employees.

The typical annual pay increase is 3 percent across the board and an additional 2.5 percent for employees earning less than the median pay for their jobs. The budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 will raise pay 2.25 percent for everyone, regardless of relative salary. The smaller increase will save about $2 million, making some of those other jobs possible.

Joe Mahon