Michigan local government officials: public employee workforce wages increasing, room for improvement 

January 24, 2023

Michigan’s local governments report a long trend of increasing employee pay, but a third of local leaders say wages are still too low. The issue is relevant for their finances as 92% of Michigan local governments report having some type of paid employees, beyond their elected officials. 

The insights come from the Spring 2022 Michigan Public Policy Survey (MPPS), administered by the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP), which included information from county administrators, board chairs, and clerks; city mayors, managers, and clerks; village presidents, managers, and clerks; and township supervisors, managers, and clerks from 1,327 jurisdictions across the state. 

“Over the past decade, Michigan local governments have increasingly reported boosting employee wages and salaries. In the aftermath of the Great Recession, fewer than a quarter of the Michigan local governments with employees reported increasing their pay rates compared to the previous fiscal year, while 10% were decreasing the rates. By spring of 2022, 75% reported increasing pay rates, by far the highest since the MPPS started tracking the item,” according to Natalie Fitzpatrick, MPPS research specialist. 

Additionally, 68% of Michigan local governments are planning further increases in wages and salaries in the 2022-23 fiscal year, which is a record high, eclipsing the previous high of 63% in 2019. While most say pay rates for current employees are about right, one-third say they are too low. 

“Most local government officials say their government’s pay rates are about right, as has been the case since MPPS tracking began in 2011. However, despite the decade-long trend in pay rate increases, 33% statewide say their employee pay is, overall, currently too low,” notes Debra Horner, senior program manager for the MPPS.

See CLOSUP’s website for the full question text on the survey questionnaire and detailed tables of the data in this report, including breakdowns by various community characteristics: http://mpps.umich.edu. 

The survey responses presented here are those of local Michigan officials, while further analysis represents the views of the authors. Neither necessarily reflects the views of the University of Michigan, or of other partners in the MPPS.

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