Overtime costs at state agencies reached a record high last year of more than $924 million and increased by 8.7% over the prior year, a report released Friday by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's office found.
Only a handful of state agencies largely fueled the increase: The state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, the Office of Mental Health and the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities accounted for two-thirds of the state's overtime costs, according to the report.
Costs have also increased at the Office of Children and Family Services and the City University of New York. Earnings from overtime at both entities increased by more than 45%.
All told, nearly 20 million hours of overtime were logged last year by state government workers.
Employers in both the public and private sectors have been grappling with worker shortages over the last year. But a drop in public employees has been a 10-year trend along with the rise in overtime hours being paid out.
Overtime at state agencies has increased by 38% over the last 10 years, a spike that has coincided with a 10% decline in workers at 10 major agencies.
“As state government grappled with the impacts of the pandemic, overtime costs set a new record in 2021,” DiNapoli said. “While the pandemic does not appear to have prompted a ‘great resignation’ from the state workforce in 2020, new hiring stalled, and the workforce declined more sharply in 2021 than in the prior decade. The state needs to continue to attract and retain a range of diverse employees to be responsive to 21st Century needs, and to ensure that services are provided in a cost-effective manner without excessive use of overtime.”
Extra hours are being shouldered by less than 20% of state agency workers. But seven agencies had more than 25% of their workforce accruing additional hours in 2021. The Office for People with Developmental Disabilities had the highest share at 49.1%, followed by Veterans' Homes at 48.6%, the report found.