Prompted in part by uneasiness over $15 billion in state budget cuts, Texas state workers left their jobs in fiscal 2011 at a faster rate than they have in three years. Younger, lower-paid employees were the most likely to ditch their state jobs.
Statewide, the fiscal 2011 turnover rate was 16.8 percent for regular full- and part-time classified employees, based on the departure of about 26,000 employees, according to a new report from State Auditor John Keel. That’s the highest turnover rate since fiscal 2008.
Retirement was the No. 1 reason for leaving the state workforce, according to the report, followed by the desire for better pay and benefits.
The fiscal 2011 turnover rate rose about 15 percent compared with fiscal 2010.
The figures took into account voluntary departures, retirements, layoffs and firings. They did not include employees of state colleges and universities, and did not include employee transfers from one state agency to another.
Excluding retirements, firings and layoffs, the fiscal 2011 turnover rate was 9 percent. This rate is considered a more “true” turnover pace because it reflects “preventable” turnover, the state auditor said. The “true” turnover rate was 8 percent in fiscal 2010.
Among reasons cited for the employee exodus:
- The number of retiring state workers keeps increasing. In fiscal 2011, which ended Aug. 31, retirements jumped 19.3 percent from fiscal 2010.
- Some state workers decided to find work jobs elsewhere because of “perceived employment instability at their state agency.” That was blamed in part on the $15 billion in state budget cuts approved during the 2011 legislative session.
- State agencies awarded 7,161 fewer merit pay increases and 4,142 fewer one-time merit pay increases in fiscal 2011 than in fiscal 2010.
Employees under age 30 and those with less than years on the job left the state workforce at a higher rate than any other age or length-of-service group.
“Generally, the lower an employee’s salary, the more likely the employee was to leave state employment in fiscal year 2011,” the report said.
Employees paid less than $30,000 a year left the state workforce at a higher rate than employees earning more than that. In fiscal year 2011, roughly one-fourth of state employees earned less than $30,000 a year.
Here are other highlights of the report:
- In fiscal 2011, the Texas Education Agency had the highest turnover rate – 38.5 percent – of any state agency with at least 1,000 employees. The agency’s turnover rate in fiscal 2010 was 9 percent. Layoffs made up nearly two-thirds of the departures of agency employees in 2011.
- At No. 2 for turnover in 2011 was the Texas Youth Commission (36.7 percent) followed by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (29.9 percent).
- The Texas Department of Transportation Department of Transportation had the lowest turnover rate – 8.7 percent.
- For all job titles, the turnover rate was highest for mental retardation assistant (42.2 percent), followed by juvenile correctional officer (39.6 percent) and licensed vocational nurse (33.5 percent).
- The Texas Department of Criminal Justice, which is the largest state agency, accounted for the largest percentage of workforce departures (29.6 percent) in fiscal 2011. The department’s turnover rate was 19.2 percent in 2011.
- Among all of the state’s regions, West Texas had the highest turnover rate (26.7 percent) during fiscal 2011. The Austin region’s turnover rate was 12.3 percent. In all, 73 counties had turnover rates that exceeded the statewide figure of 16.8 percent.