Some Democrats and social justice advocates in North Carolina continue to throw around huge numbers of people who have been laid off due to cuts in the state budget. Representative Bill Faison (D-Orange) claimed in a press release over 6,000 state jobs were lost because of the cuts and more state workers would lose their jobs. A coalition of liberal organizations called Together NC predicts in an article that 30,000 (public and private combined) will lose jobs by 2013 because of the cuts. It’s not clear how that number was reached but at least one claim in the article is misleading. There’s an assertion the Department of Transportation (DOT) laid off 400 workers due to budget cuts.
A spokeswoman at the DOT, Greer Beatty, said 441 DOT workers were notified their jobs would be phased out by June 30, 2012. She said most have already found other jobs within state government or the private sector. Beatty said others have taken early retirement. The Human Resources staff worked to find those employees other jobs. If none could be found and if the workers didn’t qualify for early retirement then they could be eligible for a severance package. However, some workers could be forced to accept pay cuts. If the department found the employee another position and the employee refused to take it, even if it paid less, that person would not qualify for severance pay.
A new report from the Office of State Budget and Management indicates 1,633 state employees were receiving a severance package due to a reduction in force, even counting the 516 local district education jobs. Furthermore, the Together NC article claims the UNC System was forced to lay off 3,000 jobs yet the budget office report shows only 243 receiving severance.
The severance package includes full salary and health benefits for up to a year. As of November 1, the Office of State Budget and Management allocated a total of nearly $24 million for severance benefits.
Other public records also show those gigantic layoff claims are way off. State agencies are required to inform the Office of State Personnel anytime an employee is laid off. In September, an official in that office told the Civitas Institute that records showed less than 1,000 state employees had lost jobs since the current budget went into effect in June. That number didn’t include locally funded education positions.
Even with the talk of layoffs, there are still plenty of state government job openings. The Office of State Personnel has a listing on its web site for over 500 positions to be filled.