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For Immediate Release
Sonoma County staff outline ongoing efforts to fill vacancies in county workforce
SANTA ROSA, CA | February 06, 2024
The vacancy rate in the County of Sonoma’s workforce declined to 11.5 percent in January, down from 12.3 percent at the end of 2022, according to a new report presented today to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors.
The presentation outlined the effects of a series of actions the county has taken or is taking to reduce vacancies even further. These include offering hiring financial incentives for hard-to-fill positions, increasing pay, allowing workers to telework when possible, expanding recruitment efforts, accelerating the hiring process and removing barriers to employment.
“There are no public services without our public servants. We are doing everything possible to reduce the number of vacancies in the county’s workforce,” said Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, vice chair of the Board of Supervisors. “We are beginning to see the results of last year’s investments in our workforce. We know there is more work to do, and we will continue to work on recruitment and retention to meet the needs of the community.”
The county government – the largest employer in Sonoma County – has increased the size of its workforce and reduced the number of vacancies over the last year. It had 3,989 regular full-time equivalent workers last month, up from 3,811 at the end of 2022. It had 518 vacant FTE positions last month, down from 535 at the end of 2022. The numbers exclude extra-help staff, who are employed temporarily to relieve or augment permanent staff.
Nearly 29 percent of the county’s vacancies are in six job classes with a total of 146 openings: correctional deputy, behavioral health clinician, eligibility specialist, senior client support specialist, children's residential care counselor and juvenile correctional counselor. Excluding these positions, the county’s vacancy rate is 9.3 percent, which is considered to be a healthy rate, said Janell Crane, director of the county’s Human Resources Department.
The county hired 787 regular and extra-help workers last year and promoted another 400 existing workers into open positions, the most in five years in each category. More than 300 allocations are currently in active recruitment, examination or department selection processes.
Crane noted the county has not been immune to forces that have increased vacancies at government and private employers across California. These trends include the “Great Resignation” of workers reevaluating their work-life balance in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the “Silver Tsunami” of Baby Boomers retiring at age 65.
“Sonoma County is not alone in the challenges we are facing to recruit staff,” Crane said. “Many other counties, as well as many private sector employers, are experiencing the same difficulties we are.”
In general, California counties are seeing staff vacancy rates of between 11 and 15 percent, while some are experiencing rates in the mid-20 percent range, Crane said.
Crane encouraged anyone looking for work or considering a career change to view a list of current job opportunities with the County of Sonoma at YourPath2SonomaCounty.Org. Job-seekers can learn how to navigate the county’s hiring process by attending Start Here!, a 2-hour virtual class that provides an overview of the application, examination and selection processes. Email email@example.com to indicate your interest or request more information.