AUSTIN (KXAN) — Several City of Austin (COA) departments struggling with post-pandemic hiring and retention challenges are trying to bring more attractive options for job seekers as the city’s economy continues to grow.

According to the city, employee turnover has increased this year compared to previous years and hundreds of vacant positions have yet to be filled.

“Good employees are changing career fields or going to the private sector after being offered more money,” said Jen Samp, Public Information Officer for Austin Public Health (APH).

Samp told KXAN that APH continues to meet the communities needs for public health services, however, the staffing shortage has meant longer hours, weekend, and holiday work, which has further contributed to burnout.

In addition to the burnout, APH says it’s seeing fewer applicants and an increase in offers being declined.

Currently, Austin Public Health is operating at under 75% capacity with 134 vacant positions it’s attempting to fill.

KXAN learned that APH isn’t the only department experiencing similar challenges at COA.

Parks and Recreation and Austin Water currently have nearly 270 open positions.

In 2021, Austin Water had a turnover rate of 10.47%, while Parks and Rec said its turnover rate mirrored the city’s at around 8.9%.

With fewer applicants and higher turnover in a city where the demand for jobs is high, KXAN wanted to see what COA is competing with in the Austin job market that may be leading candidates to other employers.

DATA: Wage and Occupation Analysis

According to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), the Austin Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) had the second-highest overall average annual salary in 2020 behind Midland.

With the second-highest 2020 annual salary in Texas across all occupations, KXAN wanted to see how the distribution of wealth in the Austin area looked.

KXAN found that nearly 60% of occupations in Austin had annual wages under the total average of $57,833 in 2020.

However, when it comes to occupations that are currently hiring, KXAN found the overall average annual salary to be substantially higher.

As of October 2021, there were more than 32,000 job postings among the top 25 occupations in the Capital Area with an average annual salary of $79,000, according to TWC.

Furthermore, KXAN compared positions currently available at COA with similar positions throughout Austin and found pay ranges between COA and other companies appeared to be competitive, but there was no shortage of options for job seekers.

For example, Austincityjobs.org currently has 12 human-resource-related positions posted. According to WorkinTexas.com, there are nearly 5,000 current job postings for human-resource-related jobs in the Austin and surrounding area.

As COA tries to fill its vacant positions, it seems apparent that it, along with others, will need to continue finding ways to remain a desirable option in an increasingly competitive candidate market.

In the meantime, “those who are seeking a challenging, yet rewarding job can apply with APH,” said Samp.