It’s hard to find good help these days, and Guilford County Manager Mike Halford knows that as well as anyone. He recently told the Guilford County Board of Commissioners that, of 2,900 positions in Guilford County government, over 15 percent are currently vacant.

“Right now, we’re sitting at about 450 vacancies,” Halford told the board at a work session in the county-owned Truist Bank Building in downtown Greensboro.

“That’s created challenges for operations; that’s created challenges for our employees.”

He added, “This doesn’t account for how long it takes for somebody to be able to fully perform that job, particularly if they are new to the position.”

The county manager also stated that the number of vacancies had gone up from 435 – and thus was moving in the wrong direction. He pointed out that those remaining 2,450 people are serving a county population of well over 500,000.

Guilford County, Halford said, has one of the lowest ratios of employees to residents of any county in the state.

“When we talk about compensation,” Halford told the board, “realize that your employees are serving more residents per employee than almost every other county government in North Carolina.”

One of Halford’s favorite solutions to the problem is extremely straightforward: raise the salaries of county employees. Guilford County already gave every employee, including well-paid directors, a 5 percent raise near the start of 2022, and the new 2022- 2023 fiscal budget adopted in June provided county employees with a lot of other attractive benefits as well.

Halford said he would like to see the county move much higher up that pay ladder.

He said that not all areas of Guilford County government were suffering from the lack of workers to the same extent. He said new Emergency Medical Technicians recruitment programs had reaped benefits.

“It’s actually a success story,” Halford said of that particular category of employees.