Job seeker, lately, you have been pondering whether or not you should bother with applying for a federal job. And you wonder if the federal government is still considered the best employer in the nation. Well, it depends on where you stand.
Most job seekers, especially those who were hit by the wave of layoffs during the Great Recession, believe that the federal government is a more stable environment than the private sector. In addition, many have referred to federal employment as a more practical option when it comes to its system of promotions and raises. In other words, federal employees know exactly what to expect in terms of their future earnings. And remember that famous quote by President John F. Kennedy that inspired many Americans to commit to public service:
“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,” said President John F. Kennedy during the 1961 Inaugural Address.
However, since President Kennedy cited one of his most eloquent speeches about the honor in working for the government, things have changed significantly. One of the major issues, says a new study, is if you land a job with the Feds, you may not find anyone else that looks like you. Other problems range from a bad image to low employee morale. The following is an in-depth look at the current issues that plague the federal government and whether or not you should apply.
Bad Diversity Statistics
According to new data from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), as cited by the Washington Post, the federal government has done little to recruit and maintain a diverse workforce.
“The statistics show that, in some cases, the federal workforce is less diverse than the population in general,” said Joe Davidson, a Washington Post reporter.
When it comes to racial and ethnic groups, the Feds only recruited or maintained less than one-tenth of a percentage point with African American employment increasing from 17.94 to 17.97 percent; the Latino population from 7.90 to 7.95 percent; Asian 5.90 to 5.95 percent; and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander from 0.36 to 0.38 percent from 2010 until 2011. So what are the other institutional issues?
It has been over 50 years since President Kennedy described working for the government as “… a proud and lively career.” And today there are still many public servants who have dedicated their lives to honorably serving the nation. But there also are others who have done nothing to uphold his fundamental promise of good old-fashion dedication and commitment to the public. As a result, some federal employees have given the entire workforce a bad reputation in recent years, says the Washington Post.
“We all know the stereotypes about government workers: clock-watching, initiative-blocking bureaucrats, ignorant about the financial constraints of the real world,” said Mary Ellen Slayter, a Washington Post reporter. “They don’t make much money, but they don’t have to do much either.”
So what’s driving force behind these stereotypes? Over the years, it’s the bad bureaucrats or lazy paper pushers who continue to damage the image of those who work hard every day. But just remember there also are bad apples who work for the private industry in virtually every sector. Have you read the recent scandals surrounding the banking or oil industries; or have you shopped at Wal-Mart lately?
According to the U.S. News and World Report, most federal employees get a bad rap because many critics consider them to be as unethical as the institutions that they work for who often give dishonest big businesses a pass. And it is the same critics who blame all of the nation’s issues on each and every employee.
“The antigovernment and anti-civil servant theme has also gained traction due to the right’s assault on the evils of ‘big government,’” said Matthew Dallek, a U.S. News and World Report contributor and author of The Right Moment: Ronald Reagan’s First Victory and the Decisive Turning Point in American Politics. “Career employees are now routinely vilified as wasteful and ineffective bureaucrats, who simply exist as a terrible drain on taxpayers’ money.”
However, it’s important to note that those who criticize also continue to depend on those critical services that government employees provide just like everyone else. In other words, when your house is on fire, you probably won’t be talking smack to the firefighters that arrive.
In addition to a growing disdain by some of the people they serve, federal employees have experienced a series of furloughs and shutdowns; harsh attacks by frustrated protestors; and fatal assaults by unstable gunmen. In recent years, they also have watched as fed-up coworkers or whistleblowers aim to destroy the same institutions that they hold in high regards. According to the Washington Post, the recent issues surrounding the Feds have resulted in a decrease in employee morale. As a result, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for many employees to agree with President’s Kennedy declaration:
“And let every man and woman who works in any area of our national government, in any branch, at any level, be able to say with pride and with honor in future years: ’I served the United States Government in that hour of our nation’s need.’”
Amidst all of the government turmoil, over 100,000 employees or over 6 percent of total workforce said goodbye to their federal careers last year, according to a recent study conducted by the Partnership for Public Service. While over 50 percent of federal employees simply retired, there were over 30 percent who quit; and 43.4 percent of them were women. The non-profit group also found that the Feds is turning a lot of millennials off.
Over 8 percent of 30 and under federal employees also jumped ship last year, which is a big deal since they represent only a little over 7 percent of the total workforce. And when it comes to attracting college students, the news doesn’t get any better. Just barely 20 percent of the students surveyed said they would seek federal employment after graduation, which is a significant drop from previous generations. So the question remains: Is the federal government still the best employer in the nation and should you bother applying?
The fact of the matter is that the federal government employs over 2 million people in a variety of occupations in cities all across the nation. And when it comes to stability, the Feds is still one of the nation’s most secure employers. The employees are so protected, in fact, that USA TODAY says “federal employees’ job security is so great that workers in many agencies are more likely to die of natural causes than get laid off or fired”.
And when it comes to salary and benefits, federal employees earned more than double the salary of those working in the private sector, a difference of over $119,000 versus under $60,000 annually, says Bloomberg News. For those who are just starting their careers, the federal government also offers a variety of training and workforce development programs. For college students, there’s the Outstanding Scholar Program that offers employment to those with a grade-point average of 3.5 or better, says the Seattle Times. And as President Kennedy suggested, the “…success of this Government, and thus the success of our Nation” still depends on public servants.
“It’s the premier place to make a difference,” Max Stier, president and chief executive of the Partnership for Public Service, told the Seattle Times.
So what are you waiting for job seeker? It’s time to log on to www.usajobs.gov and apply.