While the state agency that is supposed to aid South Carolina’s jobless population ironically will be casting off some of its own staff onto the unemployment line, other agencies have grown in recent years, a review by The Nerve has found.
The S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce is scheduled to ax 136 employees by June, according to a press statement DEW submitted last week to The Nerve.
But the state Department of Revenue, for example – which made national news Friday after state officials revealed that a foreign computer hacker was able to gain access to 3.6 million Social Security numbers and 387,000 credit or debit card numbers in an agency database – has added 70 permanent staffers since 2008 – an 11 percent jump – bringing its permanent workforce to 696 this year, state records show.
The S.C. Retirement System Investment Commission, which, as The Nerve reported earlier, is requesting more money for fiscal 2014 for additional employees, also has seen its permanent staff double since 2008, to 28 from 14, according to records provided last week to The Nerve by the S.C. Budget and Control Board.
At least five public colleges and universities also increased permanent staffing during the four-year period, The Nerve’s review found: Lander University (12.07 percent), College of Charleston (6.86 percent), Winthrop University (3.76 percent), Medical University of South Carolina (3.13 percent) and The Citadel (1.62 percent).
Lander’s student population has experienced “record enrollment” over the past six years, growing to 3,048 this year from 2,408 in 2007, Daniel Ball, the university’s president, said in an email to The Nerve.
“As a result of the significant increase, we added back some positions lost to major budget cuts from the State,” Ball said.
Winthrop University spokeswoman Rebecca Masters told The Nerve in a written response that her school’s work force has grown for several reasons – “meeting increased technology needs throughout campus, increased academic focus on the sciences and creating an Academic Success Center.”
Winthrop’s student enrollment is expected to grow from 6,000 students to approximately 7,000 to 7,500 over the next 10 years, she said.
“Personnel numbers at Winthrop have grown overall in recent years…all related to our quest for continuous quality improvement in all we do,” Masters said.
At the University of South Carolina, its permanent staff has grown to 5,833 this year from 5,773 in 2009, a 10 percent increase over the three-year period, BCB records show.
USC spokesman Wes Hickman told The Nerve that the increase is a response to a growing student body.
“As we get more students we need more staff and faculty to increase the needs of these students,” Hickman said. “Most of the staff are paid with state funds and others from research grants.”
Many other state agencies, however, have downsized in recent years; BCB records reviewed by The Nerve show that 55 of 77 listed agencies have recorded reductions in permanent staff levels since 2008. In total, permanent staff levels among the 77 agencies dropped by about 6,200 workers, or nearly 10 percent, during the four-year period.
Agencies that recorded staff reductions included the departments of Corrections, Health and Environmental Control, and Transportation.
The Budget and Control Board on its website points out, however, that its records do not include agencies that are not part of the state human resources system, such as the state-owned utility Santee Cooper.
The State Law Enforcement Division – South Carolina’s top investigative law enforcement agency, which is conducting a probe into the massive DOR hacking incident revealed last week – lost nearly a third of its permanent staff since 2008, BCB records show, dropping to 408 from 607.
“Between funding issues, individuals leaving or retiring, we’ve lost a substantial number of employees,” SLED spokesman Thom Berry told The Nerve.
But Berry said the agency is trying to hire more people.
“We’re now beginning to replace those numbers,” Berry said. “We’re rebuilding for field agents, for alcohol law enforcement, case investigations and staffing in lab services. We’re the only state’s forensics full-service laboratory.”
Asked about seeking a budget increase for more staffing, Berry replied, “We do everything we can to live within our means,” though he added, “If you don’t have enough money, you can’t hire the right person we want. It’s just that simple.”
As for the state Department of Employment and Workforce, the agency added 30 permanent employees since 2010, BCB records show. The loss of federal funding is the main reason the agency is laying off 136 workers starting this month, according to the press statement provided to The Nerve.
“We have to align our workforce according to current and future projected funding streams,” DEW Executive Director Abraham Turner said in the statement.
Reach Legette at (803) 254-4411 or firstname.lastname@example.org.