Mosley: Government workers’ pay lags surrounding states

JACKSON — Mississippi government employees make an average of $9,108 less than their counterparts in the surrounding states of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee, said the Mississippi State Personnel Board director.

Deanna Mosley told lawmakers that for the budget year that ended June 30, the average in Mississippi was $34,506. The four states’ average for equivalent jobs during that time was $43,614.

Mississippi government employees’ most recent across-the-board pay raise was approved during the election-year legislative session of 2007. It’s unclear whether lawmakers will consider a raise this year. The next election is in 2015.

The Personnel Board oversees 34 percent of Mississippi government employees, including those who work for the Division of Medicaid, and the departments of health, transportation, human services and marine resources.

Employees not covered by the Personnel Board work for schools, community colleges, universities, the Legislature and the governor’s office. That means some of the higher salaries in state government – those of university football coaches and physicians at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, for example – are not calculated in the average of $34,506.

Mosley said 62 percent of the employees overseen by the Personnel Board earn less than the average.

She also said state government has a relatively high turnover rate, particularly among employees younger than 40. She said 67 percent of employees left state jobs after less than five years, and training new employees can be expensive.

Mosley told members of the House Appropriations Committee that 43 percent of state agency leaders will be eligible to retire within five years. She suggested that lawmakers consider ways to make state government careers more attractive to younger workers who might stay and build up institutional knowledge.

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