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Division of Human Resources recommends another pay increase for state employees

The Idaho Division of Human Resources is asking the Legislature to approve a 3 percent merit-based increase to state employee wages — again.

The Legislature has increased its state employee compensation structure in three of the last five years, but state pay still lags behind pay in the private market.

The Legislature approved pay increases of 2 percent in 2013 and in 2015, as well as a 3 percent increase in 2017, but a new report released by the Division of Human Resources said Idaho still pays its employees 20 percent below what the private market pays.

The state has more than 25,600 employees, 13,080 of whom are classified. Classified workers are subject to changes in the merit-based pay scale.

In 2016, 1,861 classified employees left state employment. When state employees leave their jobs, they have the option of filling out an exit survey. In 2016,  46 percent of the survey respondents said they left because of low pay.

Idaho makes up a little ground in the competition for workers with its benefits package which is 26 percent more valuable than the average plan found in the private sector. But when salaries and benefits are calculated together, Idaho compensation is still 8 percent below that in the private market, according to the report.

About Benton Alexander Smith

Benton Alexander Smith is a reporter for the Idaho Business Review, covering the Idaho Legislature, new business, technology and financial services.