RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The North Carolina House passed a state budget today. The House is proposing a raise for state workers, but will it be enough to fill thousands of vacancies?
The house budget, which passed 78-38, proposes a 7.5% raise for state employees across two years. There is an additional 2% raise for hard-to-fill jobs.
Suzanne Beasley, Director of Government Relations at State Employees Association of North Carolina, said the budget does not do enough to combat inflation and address the vacancies.
“We’re not gonna draw good people to state government if we’re not paying them,” Beasley said.
According to the State Office of Human Resources, the statewide vacancy rate was 23.4% at the end of 2022. Beasley said she hears from current state employees who are left filling the gaps.
“Folks are having to do double duty, they’re having to pull double shifts, you know they’re dedicated employees so they’re trying to cover, bridge the gaps you know, where there’s no one to cover,” Beasley said.
According to the State Office of Human Resources, the five state agencies with the highest vacancy rates as of December 2022 are:
- Adult Correction/Public Safety – 27.1%
- Health and Human Services – 25.9%
- Transportation – 21.7%
- State Auditor – 21.3%
- Environmental Quality – 18.8%
Since then, the Department of Public Safety and Department of Adult Correction have split into separate agencies. The Department of Adult Correction said it now has about a 28% vacancy overall, with about 5,520 vacant positions.
The Department of Health and Human Services said its data shows vacancies have increased since December, with about 4,906 vacancies reported in February. The department said it has long requested more resources, and raises are a critical component for competing in a tight labor market.
NCDHHS said all of its services, which range from conducting newborn screening to maintaining vital records, are stressed by the staffing shortage and have impacted every day for North Carolinians.
“The proposed raises for state employees are a welcome tool for delivering the timely services that North Carolinians want,” a spokesperson for the agency said. “We will continue to work in good faith with the legislature to support our staff in serving the public.”
Beasley said there’s not a specific raise the association wants to see, but hopes it increases through the budget process.
Governor Roy Cooper’s budget proposed an 8% raise for state employees.
After the House proposed its budget last week, CBS 17 asked Speaker of the House Tim Moore if the pay bump is enough to combat vacancies.
“Overall, yes, but that alone would not combat vacancy rates in certain departments,” Moore said.
He also said the House is doing what it can and values state employees.
The Senate is expected to release its budget in May.