The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

May 20, 2009
State payroll fell in February despite rise in number of workers

vault.jpgThe state spent less on employee wages in February and March than in December and January. Payroll expenses also fell compared with the same two-month stretch in 2008, according to numbers The State Worker has received from the state controller's office.

Payroll for February, when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's two-days-per-month furlough order went into effect, fell to roughly $1.46 billion, down from $1.60 billion in January. Last year, the state cut February payroll checks totaling $1.52 billion.

Meanwhile, the number of state workers grew slightly, according to the controller's data. Checks went out to 239,791 employees in February, compared to 238,970 in January. The state employed 240,346 workers in February 2008.

Full-time employees accounted for most of the growth, their numbers going from 211,639 in January of this year to 212,616 the following month. There were 206,865 full-timers in February 2008.

March 2009 payroll grew to $1.48 billion, and the total number of employees grew to 213,001.

You can see more of the data by clicking here to view the Excel spreadsheets.

So state payroll costs fell even though the number of government jobs grew. But we asked for the payroll data (including specifics on overtime) to see whether we could determine how much, if anything, the state is saving because of furloughs.

It's hard to tell from these numbers (the only ones that the controller's office could provide), and here's why, according to spokesman Jacob Roper:

1 - The numbers include all pay except a few kinds of leave (so overtime is still there).

2 - Other savings, like employer contributions to federal programs, will not be reflected.

3 - Other costs, including the administration of furloughs, programming changes to payroll, etc., will not be reflected.

4 - Employees that used to participate in the voluntary leave program can now use furloughs.

5 - Employees can use furloughs in place of vacation days or planned medical leave, which means those days continue to accrue.

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at jortiz@sacbee.com.

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