The worker shortage has affected workplaces at the federal, state and municipal level throughout the country. In Texas, government agencies and other public entities are struggling to find employees to fill crucial job positions. To retain current employees and encourage new applicants and to retain current employees, many of the state’s 112 agencies are pushing for higher wages.
Low wages cause workers to flee
Jobs in the public sector were once known as reliable long-term careers with middle-class salaries and reasonable benefits. However, many employees are finding it harder and harder to live on these wages in an era of high inflation and rising cost of living. Some have had to pick up second or third jobs to make ends meet. Others have fled to the private sector.
Paradoxically, the lack of workers puts additional strain on the workers who remain. They find themselves with a heavier workload, which can contribute to burnout and eventual resignation.
According to the Texas Tribune, public employees have not had a statewide raise since 2014 – nearly a decade ago. In their budget proposals, multiple agencies cited low pay as the cause of staffing shortages. The Texas Department of State Health Services, for instance, stated that it has lost employees to the private sector for lack of pay.
An uncertain future for workers and the state
The Texas Legislature will meet this January to develop the state’s two-year budget. Lawmakers have an estimated $27 billion in revenue to disperse to taxpayers’ many needs. It will be an important legislative session for public entities and workers to watch, as the budget assignments could have a significant impact on the public workforce.
In the meantime, state employers are searching for creative solutions and incentives to lure talented employees. Some methods have included offering more work-from-home options and diverting funds from empty positions to provide bonuses for current staff members. It remains to be seen, however, whether public entities will be able to prevent more attrition.