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  • At 15 Federal Agencies, Death More Common Than Job Loss

    How secure are federal workers’ jobs? According to a recent USA Today study, death is the leading cause of job loss in 15 federal agencies.

    The federal government laid off or fired 0.55 percent of its workforce, according to USA Today – about one sixth of the firing/layoff rate in the private sector. A pair of agencies, the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission, did not fire or lay off a single worker in the budget year that ended September 30, despite employing roughly 3,000 workers between them.

    Federal workers based in Washington DC were least likely to be fired or laid off – only 0.26 percent lost their jobs.

    A spokesperson from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which fired or laid off only 0.15 percent of its workforce, attributed the low turnover rate to the extraordinarily high quality of HUD employees. “We’ve never focused on firing people, and we don’t intend to start now,” the spokesman told USA Today. “We’re more focused on hiring the right people.”

    If private employers would put the time and effort into hiring the right people, in other words, their turnover rates might be comparable.

    The USA Today reveals some other interesting facts about federal employment:

    USA TODAY found that nearly 60% of firings occur in the first two years of employment, mostly workers on probation and outside the federal job protection system. Blue-collar workers are twice as likely to be fired as white-collar employees. The federal government’s 12,700 food preparation workers had the highest rate of getting fired last year — 2.5%.

    White-collar federal workers have almost total job security after a few years on the job. Last year, the government fired none of its 3,000 meteorologists, 2,500 health insurance administrators, 1,000 optometrists, 800 historians or 500 industrial property managers.

    The nearly half-million federal employees earning $100,000 or more enjoyed a 99.82% job security rate in 2010. Only 27 of 35,000 federal attorneys were fired last year. None was laid off. Death claimed 33.

    Job security actually represents one of the chief advantages that public sector workers enjoy over their private sector counterparts, a fact noted by the Heritage Foundation’s James Sherk last year:

    Civil service rules make it prohibitively difficult to fire federal employees for bad performance once they pass their probationary period—one year on the job. Most federal employees who perform poorly never get fired. They keep their jobs unless their supervisor works through an arduous process of exhaustively documenting their performance and working through a complex appeal process.

    The result: exactly the trends documented by USA Today.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities, Scribe [slideshow_deploy]

    29 Responses to At 15 Federal Agencies, Death More Common Than Job Loss

    1. Bobbie says:

      incompetence, inefficiencies, immoral, wastes, fraud, corruption, overstaffed, overpay, over compensated, overburdening, over controlling, deceiving, unethical, no restraints, no accountabilities that aren't made exception to, beyond constitutional decency and beyond OUR MEANS, OUR MEANS, THE PEOPLES MEANS TO CONTROL??? Why pigs CAN FLY!! Where's the oversight??? Who's job? Anybody's? get rid of em'.

      Corrections of significance is warranted immediately!! WE ARE THE PEOPLE AND THEY ARE GOVERNMENT who took a job to WORK FOR US, STEPPING WAY BEYOND THEIR PURPOSE!!! It's time they are put in their place with discipline and reprimand AND A GOOD TIME TO REFORM GOVERNMENT TO IT'S PROPER DUTY!! We the people don't believe in the government ABUSING THEIR POWER, helping themselves at our costs of time, money and FREEDOM!!!!! Discipline is of the utmost importance, this is intolerable and unacceptable in America!! We're people! Life! We deserve honesty and decency and a government with self control and respect for US!!!! The only sacrifice should be coming from those in government that got us here in the first place!!!!! URGENT CLEAN UP IN AISLE GOVERNMENT!!!!

    2. George Colgrove, VA says:

      Let me are. Where to cut. Hmmmmm. Where to cut. Where in the constitution does health care workers fall? Food preparors? Or any of the other jobs fall under? The government is doing much more than is allowed. This needs to stop before the government implodes!

    3. George Colgrove, VA says:

      "Civil service rules make it prohibitively difficult to fire federal employees for bad performance once they pass their probationary period—one year on the job. Most federal employees who perform poorly never get fired. They keep their jobs unless their supervisor works through an arduous process of exhaustively documenting their performance and working through a complex appeal process."

      Thus – good enough for gubment work! Why do you think that slogan came about. Why do you think there are (conservatively) 2 federal workers for every one private sector worker in any job class? When you consider federal workers get paid more than twice that of their equivalent private sector on average, you can conclude we are spending 4 times more on the federal workforce than we should be. And to boot look at the poor collective job they are doing.

      I think it is time we limit the time a person holds a federal job. Cap federal workers to 10 years in the federal government and 15 years in total public service. This forces a significant contribution by folks from the private sector and eliminates complacency. Federal benefits should be portable and largely managed by the worker.

      • Susan Jones says:

        Just where did you get your information that federal workers make more than private sector workers? That is totally false, and this rumor was started for one purpose, to make federal workers scapegoats for cuts so our so called government could spend more! My husband was a federal civil servant for 34 years, retired and went to work in a private sector job making much more to start than he did after 34 years in federal government. And the only reason he stayed on the job that long was for the retirement and health care benefits. So we sacrificed for many years to earn the retirement that now the government would love to cut off. They have already stopped our cost of living increases, and raised our healthcare costs, so what is next?

        • Susan: Thanks for writing. The study is linked from within the post but you can read it here: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2010/07/…. Obviously we're discussing an average, so it varies by person. However, we have found that average civil servant makes more than the average private sector employee. Benefit packages–which you mentioned in your remarks–are certainly part of that. Not to mention the job security on which this post focused.

          • bealeman says:

            Precisely put. There is nothing more secure than knowing you will always have a job and be able to provide for your family. I've met literally 100s of civilians in my 6 years who do nothing and then get a nice assignment somewhere else in the world or US. Sickening. I also served 22 years active duty and I can tell you the same about that. The military is also 'over-stocked'. Let's cut the DOD overall by 50%. That can happen simply by bringing home our babysitters, err, nation-builders, err, soldiers.

        • Susan: Thanks for writing. The study is linked from within the post but you can read it here: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2010/07/…. Obviously we're discussing an average, so it varies by person. However, we have found that average civil servant makes more than the average private sector employee. Benefit packages–which you mentioned in your remarks–are certainly part of that. Not to mention the job security on which this post focused.

        • bealeman says:

          Susan, you are crazy to think a federal employee 'earns' their salary more than the private sector. I myself am a Senior Civilian IT specialist. There have been not hours, but days, where I've simply not felt like doing ANYTHING. And I haven't. There. I said it. Done. The Federal government civilian workforce could be slashed 60% and we would still accomplish the mission. Bet.

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    5. TPublican says:

      Constitution? Congress? No matter–we have executive order for unlimited jobs, councils, committees, Agenda 21 er, ah, agenda and of course a plethora of endless regulations.

      • hweyrich says:

        I keep going back to our constitution and can't find where it empowers the President of these United States to have the privilege to implement aforementioned executive orders. Kings and Queens do that but am I wrong in thinking that this is outside the POTUS mandate?

    6. Aaron, St. Paul says:

      Two Comments: 1) It is absurd that the federal government employs 800 historians. I can only imagine the number of universities it would require to collectively employ 800 historians. 2) This article does not consider the effect of "lateral promotions." That is, circumstances under which one department can't stand an employee but recognizes that it is far easier to "promote" them either to a different department–a lateral job shift–or simply to put in the paper work to get the individual actually promoted, and thus, out of the hair of that specific department. As a result, many incompetent people work their way up the ranks over time because they are a nuisance to others with whom they work.

      • D.K. says:

        While I don't agree that ALL government employees are poor, incompetent or just losers, I do wholeheartedly concur with Aaron. Promote or lateral the really incompetent just to get them out of the area where they have NO idea what they are doing. In the public sector these idiots would be fired.

      • Julianne says:

        Yeah…and I'm one of them! Great job working for the Dept. of Defense as a historian.

    7. JD in DC says:

      Interesting journalism in that you conveniently leave out retirement rates out of the attrition rates. And why is this a bad part of Government – what employees have you identified that should be fired since you cite these particular numbers: "3,000 meteorologists, 2,500 health insurance administrators, 1,000 optometrists, 800 historians or 500 industrial property managers." Importance?

      • Guest says:

        Importance?? Are you serious? How about the 15 trillion dollar debt? or the 1.6 trillion deficit? Government employees do not create wealth. Only private sectors employees create wealth for the economy because they work for companies that earn profit. The companies that don't earn profits go out of business and laid-off employees get reallocated. If the government was a business, it would be out of business!! When companies are losing money, workers get laid off, and our government needs to do the same. So which one's should be fired, you ask?? As many as it takes to balance the budget!

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    9. 13Sisters76 says:

      I am not interested in cutting the DOE budget. I AM determined to see this, among others, abolished. The federal agencies are simply a way for the executive branch to diminish the power of the legislative branch. They have improved nothing and have hurt our economy. There is no need for the DOE, the EPA, the IRS in its present form, or HHS. Abolish them.

    10. Paul says:

      "Job security actually represents one of the chief advantages that public sector workers enjoy over their private sector counterparts"

      Is this another belong to Union consequence?

    11. Really Guys? How many Federal Employees do you know? How can you say they should be fired? You cannot make such rash statements without better information. It only makes you sound like a bunch of lunatics.
      My agency hires people with a BA or masters degree as a minimum and pays them starting out at a little over $20,000 a year. According Finance my money.com the average American earns over $60,000 per year. This is a big difference. 80% of th workers if they
      max out with pay increases could NEVER make more than $48,000 to $65,000 a year and we are one of the highest security level required for our jobs. We are not trying to get rich and have a passion for our work. We have great work ethics and I personally take offense to the remarks made earlier. Please go to your local federal agency's office and observe first hand how hard we work. Any of you are invited to shadow me any day you wish. Please eat a good breakfast before arriving since I rarely stop to eat lunch. Also, be sure to get a good night's rest since I work 9 or 10 hours a day although I only get paid for 8. I have given this quality of service to the American public for 20 years. I have supported my family, raised two children, sent them to collage (I paid their tuition out of my salary) and never asked anyone for help. And by the way have never made anywhere near 100K. Why would you not appreciate having an employee like this? Look at yourself and you employees, how do you measure up?

      • Heather says:

        Sadly, too many Americans are stupid and make assumptions based on very little information or misinformation. That being said, I'm kind of fed up with the federal system myself. I volunteered (read: slave labor) for the EEOC during law school by doing an internship there for 2 semesters. Now I know the EEOC in particular has lost about 1/3 of its workforce since Bush took office. I was hoping Obama would replace them, maybe even make the agency grow, but that didn't work out. Still, it really makes me mad that I wasted my time interning there when I would have been so much better off to have interned elsewhere and maybe had it turn into a job offer. I've even looked for work with other agencies–other agencies need employment lawyers after all–but no dice. Meanwhile, I have known no less than 3 attorneys who practically waltzed into jobs. One girl who worked with me (well, kind of–she was a state court clerk while I was superior court) got the first job she applied for–dumb luck. And no, it wasn't the case that she was smarter than me or went to a better school or anything. Her husband also got a federal job as an attorney making just under 100k (but I will admit that in his case he had a good bit of experience in the area for which he was hired). Then, while I had to take a crappy, non attorney temp job making less than I made as a clerk with no benefits due to the recession, one of the lawyers who worked there jumped ship to work for the feds. I'm sure they earn their pay, but my point is that the feds need to have a better system for recognizing those who really have a passion for government work and for giving a hiring preference to former interns. I don't even have to have a high paying attorney job. I've applied for lower paying positions that involve work I'm actually interested in doing. I haven't even gotten an interview–not even one single interview after years of doing countless applications, many of which I tailored to the announcement, used keywords, etc. I think I have a right to be angry. I'd be a great federal employee if I could get into the right position, but no one ever wants to give me a chance. Now, I realize no one will probably ever read this as I am replying a year after everyone else did. However, I just filled out yet another federal job app for a contract specialist–a job for which they say they will hire someone with a JD, before they proceed to ask specific questions you would only know if you had experience in that particular job. Special lingo and the like. So, I'm not holding my breath. Sadly, since my husband took a job in a somewhat isolated part of the state we live in, there aren't many federal jobs out here. I'm focusing more on a local college where I would like to break into administration there. Still, every once in a while a federal job comes along, temps me to apply, and thereby reopens old wounds that run very, very deep.

    12. finnegan says:

      This is absurd. It is a complete scam and waste of our money. The US taxpayer is being taken to the shed, laughed at, and then scorned for trying to change it.

      It is high time people recognize that Federal employees (as well as State and City) are a protected, privileged class that has outgrown its usefulness.

    13. Rob says:

      Lets take this chance to eliminate one more avenue for a decent life.

      • Bobbie says:

        i'd agree with you if it was earned. Tax payers who pay, don't determine the wage or benefits as governmental authority, protecting themselves behind the backs of the tax payers, avoid what the government puts us through is devious. If people were really sincere in working for the people and through the government, high pay and extreme benefits wouldn't be offered, as they are getting way too much of both adding to America's decline.

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    16. Mike the Bike says:

      There used to be an old joke that everybody laughed at down at Cape Canaveral back in the 60s. We had a new guided missile which was not working very well and somebody said," Why don't we name it "Civil Service" because it doesn't work and you can't fire it!"

    17. Keith says:

      And again today I got yet another inquiry as to whether my small business offers any " discounts for federal government employees". Why, when these layabouts make TWICE AS MUCH on average as a private sector worker do they think they are entitled to a discount? Makes my blood boil. And don't get me started on state and municipal employees…

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