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Why More Young People Are Joining the Federal Workforce

Why More Young People Are Joining the Federal Workforce

Peter Vogt /

Government jobs often get a bad rap – sometimes justifiably, but sometimes not. Many younger job seekers see federal, state and local government jobs as being dominated by middle-aged workers who aren’t open to new ideas or fresh faces.

At one time, there may have been a degree of truth in such sentiments. But these days, both statistical and anecdotal evidence point to the potential for a quasi-youth movement in the government job sector. You might well want to consider becoming a part of that movement, for more reasons than one.

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The Partnership for Public Service – a nonprofit organization that promotes careers in government and partners with Monster on Monster Public Service – reports that in the next five years, about half of the federal workforce (including 70 percent of senior managers) will be eligible for retirement.

Who will replace those who decide to retire as well as the government workers – at the federal, state and local levels – who leave their jobs for other reasons? Increasingly, it will be 20-somethings and 30-somethings.

Consider the unique rewards many government jobs offer:

Good Perks and Benefits

In the 2002 “Federal Human Capital Survey” conducted by the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM), more than 80 percent of the 100,000-plus respondents said they were satisfied with the federal government’s programs for paid time off, or vacation days and sick days. About two-thirds of the respondents said they were satisfied with their retirement benefits, while 63 percent rated their overall benefits packages as “good” or better.

Government jobs typically offer excellent health insurance benefits, too, and many offer flexible work schedules and child-care resources and referrals.

Better-than-Average Job Security

About 37 percent of all government workers are members of labor unions, and government employees account for almost half of all union members in the United States, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. As such, government workers often enjoy a degree of job protection that private-sector workers may not –- though, of course, even government employees can lose their jobs when times are tough financially and government programs and agencies are reduced or eliminated. And for some, labor unions aren’t necessarily a strong draw.

Competitive Salaries and Other Financial Benefits

The average salary for all federal government employees was $51,565 in 2001, according to OPM. Additionally, some federal, state and local government agencies offer student loan repayment assistance programs to their employees who attended college –- a benefit that can help government workers save thousands of dollars a year over the course of several years. Some federal government departments, for instance, offer repayment assistance of up to $6,000 a year, to a total of $40,000, for employees who agree to work for those departments for certain lengths of time.

Help People and Make a Difference

At their core, practically all government jobs involve helping people in some way. That may explain why 91 percent of federal employees believe they do important work, and 70 percent say their work gives them a sense of personal accomplishment, according to the OPM survey.

What do you think? Sound off… Join the discussion.

Read more about “Federal Workforce Diversity: Why Agencies Seek Out Minority Workers”

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