But even though Nevada leads the nation in unemployment, officials say the state is having trouble filling its government jobs.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal on Monday reported that Nevada has 1,456 openings, representing nearly 9 percent of the government’s total permanent authorized workforce.
Low pay, bleak prospects for future pay raises, even competition from higher paying mines in rural areas is contributing to the lack of interest from applicants, officials said.
But another reason appears to be a misconception that state government is still under a hiring freeze. A freeze was implemented in 2008 and ended after last year’s legislative session.
There are 79 openings at the Nevada Highway Patrol. A lot of veteran troopers recently retired and there is no quick method to replace them, said Chris Perry, director of the Department of Public Safety.
A trooper can retire after 25 years, and they realize pay raises are unlikely in the near future, so they see no value in continuing, he said.
Perry added that only 2 percent to 3 percent of the applicants end up as troopers.
“It is a terrific job, but there are a myriad of reasons why they don’t qualify,” he said.
Nevada Department of Transportation has 121 vacancies and can’t even fill all the highway maintenance positions needed in rural Nevada.
“We can’t compete with the mines,” said NDOT spokesman Scott Magruder. “They go to the mines because they pay three times as much.”
But more than pay, the reason more people don’t apply is they are under the false impression the state isn’t hiring, according to Lee-Ann Easton, administrator of the state Human Resource Management Division.
“There is a perception that there is a hiring freeze,” he said.
Easton is trying to change that. She is increasing advertising on state job openings and has put the state’s help wanted list on several websites.
State Budget Director Jeff Mohlenkamp also has sent memos to agency directors telling them they can hire workers on their own, meaning without going through a centralized process.
To reduce state vacancies, he hired a full-time recruitment officer whose job is to work with state agencies to fill open positions.