We don’t need to catalog the number of times that Federal workers faced uncertainty in 2011. And surety of steady, funded day-to-day employment is by no means a done deal for 2012. Yet this past week, USA Today posted several articlesabout how well Federal employees are doing. Again we saw the factoid that Federal employees slightly outearn their private sector counterparts, justified by the higher educational and experiential demands of civil service. Even more interesting are figures showing higher payrates for starting employees, e.g. a mechanical engineer, age 25 to 29, started at $63,675, up from $51,746 in 2006. Meanwhile, as all Fed employees reading this well know, while they may have gotten raises for longevity, merit and promotions, America’s 2.1 million civil servants did not get a scheduled 0.9% inflation adjustment this year. That cut saved the government about $2 billion a year. And employees will not receive a 1.1% across-the-board pay hike scheduled for Jan. 1.
Although we try to remind our government clients that security alone does not a strong government brand make, the USA Today articles show that security figured importantly in Federal decision-making:
- Holding onto jobs tightens. The rate of quitting has fallen 29% since 2007. Ordinary retirements are down 11%. Early retirements are down two-thirds. Disability departures have dropped one-third.
- Layoffs decrease.Under the Obama administration, layoffs from reorganizations have dropped by two-thirds to fewer than 300 a year in the 2.1 million person workforce. Workers are 13 times more likely to die of natural causes than get laid off from the federal government.
As expected, the USA Today articles have provoked heated on-line exchanges, which implicitly revolve around the role of government. With many citizens outraged over what they see as a bloated, unresponsive Behemoth, the Federal government and its agencies have the opportunity to reconsider and redefine its value proposition. For our perspective about what we can learn in this regard from 2011, please see our article, “The Year that Almost Wasn’t.”