Despite more than 30% of residents being older than 65, Mohave County has rarely had trouble finding plenty of labor – until now.
According to Mohave County Manager Sam Elters, almost every county department is experiencing employment vacancies, with high turnover in fields including administrative, technical, leadership and certified positions. Now Elters is proposing a $2 per hour pay increase to all non-elected county employees, and increase in county workers’ starting wages to a minimum of $14.50 per hour by 2023, in the hope of replenishing the county’s ranks.
Elters says the situation has presented Mohave County with employment challenges unlike anything the county has faced before.
“Because the county pay starts around minimum wage, we are losing current and potential employees to other industries who are now paying more and offering incentives,” Elters said in his proposal to the board this month. “The cost of turnover and ongoing vacancies is taking its toll. Given the normal workload of county employees —combined with unfilled positions and the implementation of capital improvements — the ability of remaining employees to provide county services has been stretched thin.”
According to Elters, the quality of county services and the completion of capital improvement projects can only be ensured if there are enough employees to provide them. And even outsourcing those positions would still require local expertise to provide professional and administrative oversight.
Elters is proposing a pay increase for all county employees, excluding elected officials, over the next two fiscal years. A $1 per hour pay increase would be given in FY2022, followed by another $1 per hour increase in FY2023 – to a minimum of $14.50 per hour.
The cost of those pay increases is expected to be about $2 million in 2022, which would be paid through the county’s general fund. The additional pay increases in 2023 would be paid through Federal Local Assistance funding that has already been approved by Congress.
According to Elters, the expense would have no impact on property or sales taxes, and funding will be sufficient to support the pay increases for several additional years.
Elected officials will not receive a pay increase under the proposal, Elters said because, their salaries are scheduled for adjustment in 2025 – with the exception of the Mohave County Superior Court Clerk, whose salary is slated for adjustment in 2023.
Despite vacancies in county government, however, the Arizona Commerce Authority says the labor force may be growing. According to Commerce Authority statistics, Mohave County has seen a 3.7% year-to-date increase in non-agricultural employment since Sept 2020, and a 1.3% increase to the county’s labor force during the same period. With 89,398 workers throughout Mohave County, the county’s unemployment rate remained at about 5% as of September.
Attempts to contact county officials for this story by email were unanswered as of Monday evening.
The Mohave County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on whether to approve Elters’ proposed pay increases at its Nov. 1 meeting in Kingman.
For information about Mohave County employment and vacancies, visit www.governmentjobs.com/careers/mohavecountyaz.