by Sarah Curry
Director of Fiscal Policy Studies
Roy Cooper, NC’s attorney general, and Beth Wood, NC’s state auditor, have both been reported saying that the state is losing employees to the private sector due to higher salaries. Some quick research on a database that lists state employee’s salaries tells a different story. Both say the state government salaries aren’t competitive with private jobs that pay up to 20 percent more. With the state’s unemployment rate still much higher than neighboring states, the salaries of the positions mentioned by both agencies would be a welcome change to those currently unemployed.
Jobs including the title of “auditor” in the State Auditor’s Department returned 85 employees, earning from $45,932 to $119,006, the majority of these salaries in the 50k-68k ranges. Within the Justice Department there were over 200 attorneys that had salaries between $48,344 and $123,096, the majority of those between 60k and 90k. These two career fields do offer higher salaries outside of state government, but when the average of these government salaries are much higher than a large percentage of North Carolinian’s current salaries, the turnover seems to a blessing for those looking for higher incomes.
Salaries are not the only things that keep employees at a job. Studies have proven that a good workplace culture where employees feel valued, appreciated, and able to contribute to meaningful work is more important than the salary level. The John Locke Foundation just had the Assistant Commerce Secretary, Dale Folwell, speak about empowering his employees within the Division of Employment Security. Through this change in the office culture, he is working alongside his employees to change procedures to be more efficient within the division. As a former state employee, I know that state employees also receive a stable pension plan and heath care plan that is many times better than those offered by the private sector. There are many things that make up a job – maybe its time for the State Auditor and the Attorney General’s office to change their office culture before they ask Governor McCrory for pay raises.