Tag Archives: government jobs

Federal Job Security

Back in the old days, government jobs didn’t pay very well compared to private sector jobs. But they’ve always offered better job security. For people who value not having to worry about being laid off, it can be a fair tradeoff.

Today, federal jobs tend to pay much better than comparable private sector jobs. There are other perks such as early retirement, and exceedingly generous pension and health benefits. And job security? That remains as high as ever. USA Today reports:

Death — rather than poor performance, misconduct or layoffs — is the primary threat to job security at the Environmental Protection Agency, the Small Business Administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Office of Management and Budget and a dozen other federal operations.

The federal government fired 0.55% of its workers in the budget year that ended Sept. 30 — 11,668 employees in its 2.1 million workforce. Research shows that the private sector fires about 3% of workers annually for poor performance, says John Palguta, former research chief at the federal Merit Systems Protection Board, which handles federal firing disputes.

For those interested in learning more, I recommend my colleague Iain Murray’s new book, Stealing You Blind.

Money for Nothing

A man collected 12 years of salary and benefits from his government job in Norfolk, Virginia. Nothing unusual about that… except that he “had not reported to work in years.”

Yes, this is an outrage. But maybe the world would be a better place if more government employees took that approach to their jobs.

Why Government Layoffs Tripled in June

This graph from just-released Federal Reserve data caught my eye. It shows government layoffs and discharges from late 2000 through June of this year (raw data set downloadable here). Government jobs are remarkably stable. According to this BLS chart,government workers enjoy roughly three times the job security of private sector jobs. Government workers also compensated more than twice as well as the people who pay their salaries.

For most of the last decade, government workers had as small as a 1-in-200 chance of getting fired or laid off in a given month. This stability mostly held up even during recessions, which are marked as the shaded areas in the graph.

But notice the big spike that happened this June. The economy is out of recession. But times are still tough. And government deficits are at record highs. Is the sudden jump in layoffs and discharges due to government cutting spending to avoid fiscal disaster?

I’d guess not. June was when large numbers of temporary census workers finished their jobs. Still, for one shining second, I thought that Washington had come to its senses.