The Oklahoma Department of Human Service’s office in Tulsa. DYLAN GOFORTH/The Frontier

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services last week announced pay raises for more than 3,700 agency employees that are set to go into effect next month.

The move aims to put salaries on a level more comparable to other state agencies, agency officials said. The raises are being paid for by eliminating 400 vacant but funded positions, which will save $10.8 million annually, officials said. 

“DHS is able to give frontline employees an average 13% pay increase because of the Legislature’s investment in this critical agency over the past two years and the thought-leadership of my executive team and the governor’s office on how to best structure 6,500 employees to deliver the best outcomes for our customers,” DHS Director Justin Brown said in a news release.

Brown said more than 80% of the positions seeing raises are in the agency’s 92 field offices across the state. 

The Frontier requested and analyzed DHS salary data for the staff positions receiving raises. The largest salary increase was 57.8%. When looking at the top 10% of positions getting the largest pay increases, the vast majority were for management and administrative positions. 

Overall, the median salary increase was 13.77%, the data showed.  Of the 363 jobs titles receiving raises, 120 had pay bumps above the median.

DHS spokeswoman Debra Martin said “thousands” of DHS employees took on added duties without additional compensation during several years of revenue shortfalls, voluntary buyouts and reductions in force.

“This pay increase is historic for this agency and is in line with Director Brown’s plan to make DHS an elite employer in Oklahoma,” Martin said.

As a requirement of the Oklahoma Pinnacle Plan settlement, child welfare specialists in recent years saw incremental pay raises of 2% to 7.5% annually. Those positions were not included in the recently-announced raises.

The agency is next looking to fill 450 front-line positions.

Explore the data below: