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Public-worker payroll increases 7% or $1.1 billion post-recession

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POSTED January 25, 2015 7:05 p.m.

SACRAMENTO  (AP) — California’s public-employee payroll increased again last year as the state emerged from the recession that shrank salaries and the size of its taxpayer-supported workforce, a newspaper reported Saturday.

The state’s payroll costs rose to $16.4 billion in 2014, 7 percent or $1.1 billion more than the year before, The Sacramento Bee said based on data from the State Controller’s Office.

The increase, which does not include the salaries of legislative staff and university employees, was the first in three years, The Bee said. The department that oversees California’s prisons accounted for the biggest chunk, $279 million.

When adjusted for inflation, however, the state’s salary costs still were lower than they had been before Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger furloughed state workers starting in early 2009 to cut costs. The furloughs continued under Gov. Jerry Brown, but they ended in mid-2013.

Although salaries went up 7 percent last year, the workforce grew by under 2 percent to 245,000 full- and part-time government employees. They were paid an average of $67,062, but one in five earned $100,000 or more, The Bee said.

The bigger payroll was caused in part to the state hiring more people to expand services and could also reflect departments getting clearance to fill empty positions, Department of Finance spokesman H.D. Palmer said.

After the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the agency that oversees prison health care had the next-biggest increase in salary costs — $91 million. Prison doctors were heavily represented in the ranks of state employees making more than $400,000 last year, according to The Bee.

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