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

January 25, 2023
Written By:
Daniel Rivkin

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, administered by the Center on Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP), which included information from village, township, city and county officials from 1,327 jurisdictions across the state.

“Over the past decade, Michigan local governments have increasingly reported boosting employee wages and salaries,” said Natalie Fitzpatrick, the surveys’ research specialist.

“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.”

Additionally, 68% of Michigan’s local governments are planning further increases in wages and salaries in the 2022-23 fiscal year. That’s 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 survey tracking began in 2011,” said Debra Horner, the survey’s senior program manager. “However, despite the decade-long trend in pay rate increases, 33% statewide say their employee pay is, overall, currently too low.”

The survey responses 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 survey partners.