California's state work force grew despite budget issues

California state government's full-time work force continues to grow despite Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's order to freeze hiring amid a historic budget shortfall.

From June 2008 to February 2009, most state agencies either increased or kept the same number of full-time employees, according to a Bee analysis of personnel data. The state also failed to lay off as many part-time employees during the crisis as promised by the governor.

While legislators and Schwarzenegger debated how to close a $40 billion budget deficit, 66 state agencies saw a net gain of full-time employees, 35 kept the same number of employees and 55 lost employees, data from the state controller's office show.

The overall number of full-time state employees increased by roughly 2,000, or 1 percent, excluding the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, which always shrinks sharply outside of fire season, the figures show.

While the increase is modest compared with other years, it clashes with the belief that the state work force must shrink to meet the current economic downturn and resulting drop in state revenue.

Last month, the two leading Republican candidates for governor criticized the budget deal because it relied, in part, on tax increases and not on substantially reducing the state work force.

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