This winter has taken its toll on jobseekers looking for work in the public sector. Not too long ago, government employment looked like one of the few safe harbors in a turbulent job market. Now due to the incredible-shrinking budget, most state government agencies have adopted a hiring freeze and some cities and counties are following suit. Most recently the County of Sacramento announced their hiring hibernation.
But don't let these chilling reports halt your jobsearch. Not all counties and municipalities have put hiring plans on ice. Some agencies still have opportunities for those with the right skills (see sidebar).
The list of who's hiring and who's not is constantly changing, so jobseekers need to check the status of their city or county's policy frequently.
Here is a rundown of some in Northern California:
There is good news by the bay and beyond.
"The City and County of San Francisco does not have a hiring freeze in place at this time," reports Ted Yamasaki, deputy director of administrative services at the Department of Human Resources. "Job requisitions are now being reviewed and we continue to post permanent and temporary positions on our website (ci.sf.ca.us) and at our office."
Sue Waybright, with the Alameda County human resources department, says her county also has no hiring freeze. Interested jobseekers can log on the website (co.alameda.ca.us) for job listings that range from social workers and public health nurses to landscape architects and probation officers.
Management consultant Patti Gillihan reports there is no mandated hiring freeze with Stanislaus County (co.stanislaus.ca.us), "but we always ask the heads of departments to use judgment when filling positions. Sometimes they will choose to delay the hiring process to accommodate the budget constraints." She says the county is accepting applications for 40 job classifications now.
"We do not have a technical hard freeze yet and we are filling positions at this point," notes Donald Turko, San Joaquin County (co.san-joaquin.ca.us) director of human resources. "We continue to recruit and encourage people to apply. There are many job opportunities and 800 vacancies across the board."
However, he admits that situation could change depending upon state budget negotiations. He explains the county continues to have recruiting problems especially in the areas of planning, nursing and medicine.
"The prospects look good," Turko concludes. "The job market is even more open and has more participants now than it did last summer."
Central Valley Cities Feel the Chill
But there is bleaker news at two Central Valley cities.
According to McKinley Lloyd, director of personnel services, Stockton has a hiring freeze.
"City manager Mark Lewis declared the halt on every position last month," he says. "Hopefully, when the economy improves, he will release some of these positions."
Stockton (ci.stockton.ca.us) has 1700 full time jobs and 100 vacancies.
"We call our situation a hiring chill - just a couple of degrees above a freeze," says Modesto City Manager Jack Crist (ci.modesto.ca.us). "We don't know what will happen as a result of a deficit in the state budget, but the sooner we start tightening our belt, the easier it will be for the city to respond to the loss of revenue should one occur."
He says the city government has 100 vacancies out of 1200 positions and it will continue to do limited hiring in select positions.
Sacramento City Hiring
The city of Sacramento has no freeze at this time.
A visit to cityofsacramento.org will introduce jobseekers to the variety of jobs waiting to be filled - engineers, accounting clerks, building inspectors, systems analysts, etc.
Peace officers are top priority according to the city's human resources department. Because of a statewide contract that brought the opportunity of early retirement, the city is anticipating a mass exodus of law enforcement personnel in July and the department is looking to hire now.
The department says they are always looking to refresh their candidate rosters and there is always an opening somewhere, especially if you are interested in law enforcement.
Applicants should apply as quickly as possible, since assistant city manager Ken Nishimoto indicates the city may soon consider adopting a hiring freeze as well.
SIDEBAR: Despite the Freeze, You Can Get Sacramento County Job
While Sacramento County has implemented a hiring freeze, it will still be filling some positions. Like the state, it will consider hiring in critical areas.
"We've always had problems attracting and recruiting nurses, engineers, social workers and those involved in public safety. And even now that we have a freeze, we are actively looking to recruit those types of individuals," reports Craig Wong, director of personnel services with the Sacramento County Employment Office.
He says during this indefinite no-hiring period, each position is being reviewed to determine the impact on county services. Those jobs that will be considered are deputy sheriffs, dispatchers, probation officers and mental health counselors.
"This is a trickle-down effect from the state, so we have very little discretionary money for hiring," Wong contends. "A lot of our jobs are state-mandated programs, but how well we administer them depends on the state giving us money.
I believe other counties are equally concerned."
He blames the sluggish economy and the events before and after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks for the hiring halt. At the local level, the sheriff's department has had to respond to the heightened security needs at county buildings and at the airport. Sacramento County also provides security to Elk Grove and Citrus Heights.
"The hiring process will be slowed down for some time and many of the positions will be allowed to remain vacant," he states. "It's a major hardship." Especially considering the fact that the county had 1800 vacancies it wanted to fill just a month ago.
Wong states the county has the need but not the finances to pay new employees. But he does encourage people to plan ahead for when the county will resume hiring. "Everyone who wants to apply for a state or county job has to take a civil service examination; so once the freeze is lifted we can follow-up and hire from the approved list of candidates who have taken the exam," he explains.
"If there is a job on our website (saccountyjobs.org) that is of interest, you should apply now."
The county's Department of Health and Human Services, a broad-based agency that delivers health, social and mental health services to the Sacramento community, also has a wide range of needs.
The department's website (sacdhhs.com) touts 121 different types of job opportunities.
"It is very difficult to find registered nurses and licensed vocational nurses to replace those who are leaving the profession or retiring," reports Linda Yasunura, clinic manager with the Primary Care Center in Sacramento. "This is not unique to our department. It is a national shortage."
This facility of one of the six clinics operated by the county's Health and Human Services Department.
Yasunura says county officials haven't come up with a criteria for exemptions from the freeze so they will have to wait to hear when and if aggressive recruiting can begin.
Here are some helpful resources for finding government employment:
California State Personnel Board - spb.ca.gov. Employment information on state jobs.
cajobsource.com/cagov.html - Provides links to government jobs in California including state, federal, county and city jobs.
Southern California Institute for Local Government - scilog.org. Nonprofit organization with job listings for local government throughout California (not just Southern California).
Careers in Government - careersingovernment.com. Provides information, resources and jobs available in public sector organizations in the U.S. and abroad.
Public Service Employees Network - pse-net.com. Federal, state, local government jobs listings, resources and information, and a newsletter.
govtjob.net - Job listings with state and local government throughout the US.
govtjobs.com - Provides leads/links to federal, state, county and city jobs throughout the US.
- Alameda County - (510)-272-6442
- City of Sacramento - (916) 264-8568
- City of San Francisco - (415) 557-4888
- SF City Department of Public Health - (415) 206-5317
- San Joaquin County - (209)468-3377
- Stanislaus County - (209) 525-4339
- City of Stockton - (209) 937-8523.