Some CA government jobs proving tough to fill

by Chris Reed | October 29, 2015 6:08 am

jobsThe cost of housing has been an increasingly hot topic in California political circles since late 2012. That’s when a new Census Bureau measure of poverty debuted[1], one that included the cost of living. It showed the Golden State had far and away the highest rate in the nation, with nearly one in four residents living in poverty.

That rate has held steady in subsequent Census Bureau reports. But now the high cost of housing is beginning to have a corrosive effect on government services in some of the most expensive areas. This report [2]is from the San Jose Mercury-News:

Facing an acute shortage of substitute teachers, classroom aides, custodians, bus drivers and other vital employees, Bay Area schools are scrambling to find creative ways to fill the void. … San Jose’s Alum Rock Union School District is so short of substitute teachers that Superintendent Hilaria Bauer and two of her deputies recently spent a day in the classroom teaching. “It’s harder and harder to find people,” said Kevin Skelly, superintendent of the San Mateo district. “This job market is incredibly tight and it’s expensive to live here.”


Low unemployment, high housing costs, retiring Baby Boomers and an education hiring binge are fueling the Bay Area’s shortage of school workers. So it’s forced districts like San Mateo to hire a headhunter and the Santa Clara County Office of Education to host its first ever job fair for school support staff. Twenty-one school districts and one community college district will be recruiting. Oakland Unified held a job fair earlier this month, and made 122 offers of employment.

The single most difficult jobs to keep filled are for school bus drivers, which have starting pay of $37,000. Bus drivers are in relatively high demand in the Bay Area because so many tech firms have bus fleets to bring their workers to and from tech clusters and residential communities, and school officials say drivers much prefer ferrying adults rather than school kids.

$100K job with great perks, no qualified applicants

But it’s not just jobs requiring relatively modest jobs skills that are going unfilled. The Mercury-News notes that the San Mateo Union High School District has been unable to fill an environmental oversight job that pays more than $100,000 and campus facilities maintenance manager positions that pay up to $95,900 — even though they have outstanding perks that include 21 vacation days, 15 holidays, up to 12 days of paid medical leave as well as pensions and fully paid health care. That’s because the skill sets these jobs require are in heavy demand in booming Silicon Valley.

Meanwhile, the city of Los Angeles is also having trouble filling police positions and relatively low-paying jobs, according to KPCC, the National Public Radio affiliate based in Pasadena. Here’s some of its account[3]:

Several Los Angeles city departments report they are on track to end the fiscal year with millions of dollars in surpluses because they are unable to fill hundreds of employee vacancies fast enough to keep up with retirements and attrition of the city’s aging workforce.

As of the end of August, L.A. had nearly 4,000 job vacancies, according to a report by City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana to the City Council.


The Recreation and Parks Department is looking for 100 new full-time workers by December. The Bureau of Street Services has 165 openings; Public Works has 89. The LAPD has 103 vacancies and expects 325 more by June, yet fewer than 100 are in the training pipeline in new classes.


L.A. is on track to spend about $62 million more than it takes in this fiscal year, according to a new city financial progress report, so many departments will have to reallocate expenses to end the year in balance. Some may come from the savings of departments that are unable to fill positions.

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