Our Survey Results: Wages, Labor Contracts, and HR Practices & Challenges in the Public Sector in 2023 & 2024

December 2023

By Mike Harary, Project Manager

For the third year in a row, Gallagher (formerly Koff & Associates) distributed a survey regarding matters impacting labor relations and HR practices and challenges in the public sector.

The survey was geared toward assessing 2023 agency COLA salary adjustments, Labor Market salary adjustments, length of bargaining agreements, hiring and retention issues, Classic vs. PEPRA employees, and expected HR and Labor Relations challenges for 2024. The survey was distributed to current and past clients in September 2023 and also posted on LinkedIn for California public agencies to complete. A total of 114 respondents answered the 34-question anonymous survey.

Here are highlights from the survey results:

  • 77% of responding agencies provided a Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) in 2023; an additional 14% were still in negotiations during the survey period.
  • 3.9% was the weighted average COLA provided in responding public agencies in 2023.
  • 3.4% is the weighted average COLA to be provided in 2024 for agencies with multi-year labor agreements.
  • 39% of responding agencies provided some type of salary equity adjustment, in addition to a COLA, based on a market survey in 2023.
  • 4.9% was the average salary equity adjustment, regardless of COLA, that was granted by those agencies.
  • 49% of responding agencies negotiated new labor agreements in 2023.
  • 2.9 years was the average length of new labor agreements negotiated in 2023.
  • 66.2% of New Sworn employees are being hired under the PEPRA pension tier.
  • 70.5% of New Non-Sworn employees are being hired under the PEPRA pension tier.
  • 58.0% of responding agencies have lost potential candidates for employment based on their agency’s policy for negotiating starting pay rates for new hires

The top 4 concerns for HR and Labor Relations Professionals in 2024:

  • Recruitment and Retention Challenges
  • Increasing Cost of Health Insurance Benefits
  • Budgetary Challenges
  • Navigating Work-Life Balance Challenges (i.e., demands to work from home) for existing staff and future hires

As promised, we are sharing the survey results in hopes they will be helpful in providing our HR and Labor Relations colleagues a picture of what other agencies have adopted in 2023.

Click here to view the survey results: 2023 Client Survey Results FINAL for Distribution 12 11 23

We want to thank all the participants who took the time to respond to our survey.

Koff & Associates