RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The head of the North Carolina DMV says he’ll ask the legislature to further boost pay for workers during this year’s legislative session as the agency struggles to fill vacancies and customers experience lines and long waits. 

Commissioner Wayne Goodwin said the vacancy rate among driver license examiners is about 33 percent statewide.  

While the agency has increased starting pay and implemented hiring and retention bonuses last month, Goodwin says the salaries remain a key factor in trying to attract employees. 

“It is our plan to go back to the legislature to ask for their help because that is the dominant reason for the difficulty in hiring is having a good starting salary to attract folks and to keep quality personnel,” he said. 

Since June, Goodwin said the DMV has added nearly 100 license examiners statewide but that’s still not enough to address the staffing challenges.  

The legislature begins its new session next week as a variety of state government agencies are reporting high vacancy rates in critical areas like public safety and healthcare. 

“They need to be serious about addressing the concerns,” said Goodwin. “Filling these vacancies will help them tremendously so they can keep those offices open and again provide vital services for our customers.” 

With the ongoing staffing issues, Goodwin noted that some offices have had to close periodically because there weren’t enough employees able to come to work at times. He said that problem is especially pronounced in rural communities.  

“Like restaurants, you go to other private-sector positions, they’re now paying salaries that no one ever would have expected but that’s what the market will bear. And, we need to fill these positions,” he said. 

Across state government, the vacancy rate climbed to 22.5 percent in August.  

In a recent interview Republican Senate leader Phil Berger noted the legislature included additional pay raises in the budget that passed last summer as inflation reached a 40-year high.  

“So, I think the pay is one piece of it. I don’t know that that’s the entirety because you go out to the private sector and they’re having the same problems,” Sen. Berger said. “We don’t have enough potential employees for the slots that exist. And, I don’t know that changing the pay is by itself is going to solve that problem.” 

Wally Hinkleman, who came to a DMV office in Raleigh Thursday, said he had to book his appointment about three to four months ahead of time.  

Goodwin said that’s one of the issues the agency is trying to address, noting that about 25 percent of people who make those appointments don’t show up for them. He said the DMV is developing a proposal to incentivize people to keep their appointments or to cancel them online in advance.  

He also said the DMV is planning to add kiosks at offices for certain services that can be performed that way. Goodwin encouraged customers to utilize the agency’s website as well for services that can be done online. 

The agency will also be working to recruit employees during the NC Transportation Summit, which takes place Jan. 18-19 in Raleigh.