Jan 7, 2022 - Politics

Kemp proposes $5,000 pay raise as employee turnover hits record high

A close-up of Governor Brian Kemp talking to reporters

Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/AP

Gov. Brian Kemp wants to give full-time state agency employees a $5,000 pay bump, plus other perks, to boost a workforce experiencing a record-high turnover rate.

Why it matters: Well before the Great Resignation, state employees have been fleeing their jobs, hamstringing the ability of Georgia government to serve the public.

Details: In a letter sent Friday to state agency heads, Kemp said he was offering their “full-time, eligible benefit” employees a $5,000 pay bump.

  • The governor, who’s facing a primary challenge from former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, wants to make permanent a $5,000 cost-of-living-adjustment — the first such hike in 14 years, he said, and increase the state’s maximum 401k match from 3% to 9%.
  • In addition, employees would be eligible to withdraw up to 40 hours as pay annually, which could also buffer agencies from unexpected personnel costs when employees retire.

By the numbers: Millennials (described in the DOAS report as workers born from 1981 to 1997) and GenZ (born after 1998) are leaving state employment “quickly and in significant numbers," according to the DOAS report. "The [fiscal year 2021] turnover rate was 25.7% for millennials and 76.4% for GenZ,” it says.

  • Up until six years ago, the state was able to keep up filling jobs as people left, according to the report. (The data excludes Georgia World Congress Center, Board of Regents, and higher education.) Today Georgia has fewer state employees than roughly 14 years ago, Kemp's letter said.

The turnover causes "service delivery challenges due to unplanned lost productivity, increased burdens on staff, recruiting costs, training costs, and impacts to organizational morale."

Catch up quick: In the letter, Kemp praised the officials and their employees for their “leadership, dedication, and resilience” during the pandemic and efforts over the years to keep their agencies lean.

  • State revenues are now running roughly $1 billion more than state lawmakers projected, the AP reported, leaving Kemp and budget officials with cash to spare, and in an election year.

Earlier this week, Kemp proposed a $2,000 pay increase for teachers.

What they’re saying: At a presession briefing with reporters on Thursday, House Speaker David Ralston said prosecutors who have been left out of pay bumps given in recent years and judges also would like another pay raise.

  • “I’m trying to keep count of how many groups we’re promising pay raises to,” said Ralston, one of the state officials who will consider Kemp’s proposal. “The list gets longer every day. I know we’re at a fairly good budget situation, but at some point we’re going to run out before we get to everybody.”

One group that Ralston is quick to defend for a raise: “the people who work in the trenches” of the state’s accountability courts.


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