JLARC: Some State Salaries Aren't Competitive Enough

Nov 13, 2017

Three-quarters of HR directors at state agencies say they have trouble filling open jobs. The biggest hurdle? Money. That’s according to a new report lawmakers heard in Richmond Monday.

Good benefits are the perks of a state job. But new hires tend to care less about retirement, and more about salary. And that’s where the state has trouble keeping up. In a presentation to lawmakers Jeff Lunardi with JLARC, the legislative watchdog agency, says the problem is worse for certain jobs.

“For one example nurse managers who oversee nursing staffs and provide direct care at state mental health facilities and local health departments.”

Those nurse managers for the state make an average of $71,000 a year. Might sound pretty good -- right?

“But this is nearly $18,000 less than other healthcare providers pay for similar jobs.”

That leads to high turnover and understaffing. Another sector where the state struggles is IT. Sara Wilson, the state’s chief HR officer, says low starting salaries costs the state more in the long run.

Credit JLARC

“You need the function, it’s critical to getting the work done. So you have to go to what we call a body shop, a contract employee. And that is significantly higher in cost.”

JLARC suggested in the future lawmakers target salary increases to specific jobs, rather than providing across the board raises.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.