Fed Flight

In the Federal Times, dated April 15, 2013, Andy Medici reported on the latest government-wide employee satisfaction survey, and it showed that many federal employees would rather call it the “employee dissatisfaction survey.” 

Medici wrote:  “More than half of employees at the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Secretary were considering leaving their jobs within a year….  One employee there, who asked not to be named, said he used to love his job as a program manager but wants out as soon as possible because of incompetent management and poor leadership.  Mediocrity and bureaucracy seem to be the name of the game…”

The continuing pay freeze and planned furloughs are sending waves of panic through the federal government so that a high percentage of employees are talking about jumping the ship.  There may be a federal flight as the more employable employees or considering early retirement or moving to the private sector. 

Even though downsizing of the federal government could be a good thing, the loss of the better qualified employees is not the smartest way to get this done.  The “Fed Flight” will leave the poorer quality workers behind, making the federal government system worse than ever.  The entrenched Senior Executive Service who are to blame for much of the bad work environment will stay behind, confident that they can continue with their incompetent styles without any consequences.  Those employees who remain behind will be the basis for a government that is even worse.

And yet, healthcare, military, Social Security, our budget & monetary system, and regulation of American businesses will be under this new federal government, which will become more incompetent and bureaucratic as the better federal employees leave the work force.  Almost 690,000 employees from 292 agencies completed the 2012 employee survey, and more than 30% of those polled said they were considering leaving their jobs within a year.  The private sector is very volatile right now, so only the best qualified in the government will be able to find jobs on the outside.  That translates into a simple mathematical calculation of subtraction, leaving those federal employees who are not marketable.  

Young and Underemployed

My wife and I treated ourselves to a nice dinner last night.  We had a very intelligent waiter who served us.  We started talking to him and found out that he had a degree from an east-coast university.  But he can’t find a job related to his education.

We have friends whose children have graduate degrees and are working as servers in restaurants.  Unfortunately, this is not a small problem.  About one in three young Americans are underemployed.  And they don’t have high hopes of getting a better job.  Some of them have a huge student loan to pay back.  Many of these children have moved back home with their parents to reduce their expenses.

The U.S. economy has been harder on young adults, aged from 18 to 29, than workers between 30 and 64.  The unemployment rate for this young group has been increasing.  It went from 12.5 percent in March to 13.6 percent in April of 2012.  The unemployment rate for ages 30 to 49  was 7 percent in April, and for ages 50-64 it was 6.2 percent.

But when you add in those who are working part time looking for full-time jobs, the situation looks rather bleak for the younger generation.  In April, 18.4 percent of those aged 18 to 29 were working part time because they could not find a permanent job.  Combining the unemployed to the underemployed, brings the total to 32 percent or about one out of every three in this age group.

Gallop polls indicate that only 3.1 percent of these young adults are self-employed.  Most of them lack the necessary experience, knowledge, and finances to succeed in self-employment, which is a difficult task even under the best of circumstances.

This is more than a temporary setback.  The younger adults do not obtain the experience they need to get a better job in the future.  Their resumes either have glaring gaps or underemployed positions that sometimes don’t get past the first cut made by companies.

It would be nice if politicians set aside partisan politics and established military and public service positions for these young adults, so they can gain experience that U.S. companies will need in the future after baby boomers retire.

Israel and other countries have successful programs requiring young adults to serve their countries before entering the workforce.  This will not only provide them job experiences that can translate into future positions with the private sector, but it is an excellent way to motivate young adults.  If they like the government service, they might elect to stay with it.  If they don’t like the service, they will be highly motivated to go back to school or find a better job elsewhere.  And they will have a strong resume to make this transition.

Looking for Baby Boomers

I read an interesting Associated Press story about how local charities and nonprofit groups are looking for baby boomers.  The story indicated that boomers are attractive volunteers because: (1) there are 77 million of them, (2) they are living longer, (3) they are more educated than previous generations, and (4) they bring well-honed skills and years of real-world work and life experience.

This is an interesting article because of what it didn’t say.  It didn’t say that boomers would be excellent employees because of the same reasons.  It said that they would be attractive as volunteers.  In other words, it would be good for society to utilize their skills for free.

Now, I have nothing against volunteering.  In fact, I, as a baby boomer, have done that myself.  But I also have seen the discrimination that occurs when baby boomers attempt to get a second career going.  These same skills and experiences that make us so valuable for volunteer services are not recognized in the work force.

Of course, there are low-paying positions that we might receive for being greeters or sales clerks in stores.  But there are built-in prejudices of the post-boomer generations when it comes to us applying for the higher paying jobs.  Boomers: (1) are set in their ways, (2) don’t have computer and high technology skills, (3) are too demanding on getting things done correctly, (4) are living in the past, (5) have too much experience and will take away jobs from the post-boomer generations, and (6) are going through dementia and other age-related health problems.

As the economy worsens with run-away inflation and with Social Security and Medicare running out of funds, baby boomers who have retired will find that they will have to find jobs to supplement their pensions.  Yes, there will be plenty of volunteer opportunities for the boomers, but I wonder how many good-income jobs will be available.