In 2022, nearly 25% of employees left their State of Texas jobs. One department saw an eye-popping turnover rate of over 45%, which I will discuss later. On average, most companies see a turnover rate of 18% a year, so what is causing this mass exodus from state jobs?

A Bygone Era? 

It seems like not that long ago, state jobs were coveted for their high rate of job security and impressive stack of benefits. The work was usually meaningful and typically fell into a "normal" 40-hour-a-week scheme. Unless you are in upper management, the pay isn't that great, but that problem was usually offset by a killer retirement package and those aforementioned benefits. However, these "perks" just aren't cutting it for people now, when everything from rent to groceries is incredibly expensive.

Cash Is King

According to KVUE Austin, nearly 30% of people who left their state of Texas job did so for better pay and benefits:

Summary of reasons given for the Better Pay/Benefits category included: Can’t sustain home and family with the current salary and would need to work a second job; agency cannot keep up with the cost of living; pay scales have not changed as the cost of living has continued to increase.

It seems as if otherwise good state employees couldn't afford to continue working there. That gives me pause when I think of all the state agencies that need good people to work those jobs. And 15% of people quit due to a "poor working environment," which shows some deep-seated problems in these organizations.

My Experience 

I have worked what was technically a state job before. The pay situation, even back then, was frustrating. Sure, I could get promoted, get employees to manage, and have incredible performance stats, but I was lucky to get a cost of living increase. Additionally, the place seemed to be ruled by terminal clock-watchers. You know, the do-nothings that thrived while my hard work was rewarded with dirty looks and gossip. It was an absolutely toxic environment, which was a shame because I really loved the work. I am much, much happier in the private sector.

What Department Was the Worst? 

With a whopping 45% turnover rate, the Juvenile Justice Department could not keep people. This is actually a huge improvement over 2021, which had a 71% turnover rate.  There is an entire report on why this is the case and has been for quite some time. Ironically, it's primarily inadequate staffing levels that cause people to get burnt out and leave, deepening an already huge wound.

A state job can potentially be a really rewarding one, and if you want great benefits, it may be the best place to look. However, pay rates and burnout are something you should consider before taking the plunge. I hope that our state can come up with some solutions to ensure the best people are working in these critical jobs.

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