published Monday, October 24th, 2011

Taxpayer-funded job security

In a typical year, about 3 percent of the private-sector workers in the United States are fired for poor performance.

Of course, being fired for any reason is upsetting. But as everyone who has been in the working world for very long knows, it is an unfortunate fact that at least a few people in any workplace cannot or will not carry their weight and have to be let go.

And yet, that painful reality is almost completely ignored by the federal government. USA Today looked at rates of firings and layoffs in the federal workforce and found that federal workers face almost no chance of being dismissed.

In the 2009-2010 budget year, for instance, not a single one of the 1,832 employees in the Federal Communications Commission nor a single one of the 1,189 workers in the Federal Trade Commission was fired or laid off.

Here are some other stunning statistics about extreme federal "job security":

* Only two of the 4,211 workers at the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission were fired or laid off in 2009-2010.

* Only one of the 1,714 employees at the National Labor Relations Board was dismissed.

* Only about a dozen of the nearly 19,000 people who work at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration lost their jobs.

* Not one of the federal government's 800 historians was fired.

* And only 15 of the 10,041 workers at the Department of Housing and Urban Development were fired or laid off.

Totaling it all up, USA Today found that "The job security rate for all federal workers was 99.43 percent [in 2009-2010] and nearly 100 percent for those on the job more than a few years."

Among federal workers located in Washington, job security was almost absolute: 99.74 percent. And job security in the federal workforce was even higher for employees earning $100,000 a year or more: 99.82 percent.

And remember: That happened during the ongoing U.S. economic crisis, when private-sector workers have had to be let go in high numbers.

An expert on employee turnover told USA Today that if only about one-half of 1 percent of federal employees are being laid off or fired, that "would indicate a serious management problem."

Naturally, no one should wish unemployment -- and the personal and family hardships it brings -- on anyone. But it just isn't reasonable to think that federal employees are so uniformly well qualified that practically none of them would be fired in a given year.

John Sullivan, a management professor at San Francisco State University, said the extremely high retention rate in the federal government suggests that the government is simply hanging onto employees who are unqualified or whose skills are no longer needed.

That is particularly troubling because the wages of our country's bloated, 2.1 million-member federal workforce are paid by taxpayers. Government jobs should be given -- and continued -- strictly on an as-needed basis. Gaining a position in the federal government should not be a guarantee of virtually lifetime job security.

Taxpayers cannot afford that even in good economic times -- much less in the current hard times.

7
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conservative said...

It's simply that these government employees are a TAX on Americans. When was the last time the federal government repealed a tax?

October 24, 2011 at 7:18 a.m.
EaTn said...

I think we should fire half the govt employees to fill all those waiting jobs that the wealthy tax breaks have produced in the private sector, and what's left over can be added to the current 20% unemployed.

October 24, 2011 at 7:22 a.m.
carlB said...

Reply: It woulld appear that the "capitalist" and the anti governmnt people make the government role more important when they create the finanical situations/conditions that caused the 2007 deep recession or another great depression. Where or what are the private sectors doing to help our country's people when there has been a loss of our middle class workers, with the increase of people living in poverty. It appears that the opponents of President Obama are against him doing anything similar to what FDR did in the 1929 great depression to create jobs? The Republicans' have continued their objections to any Government control on the private financial systems or any regulation from government control on the private sectors since FDR's New Deal. It is hard to control the greed of people and what they will do in creating fraud for trying to get "rich."

October 24, 2011 at 12:50 p.m.
carlB said...

Reply to the opinion » free press editorials:

Yes, the US Government does have a lot of people on the tax payers pay role and there are many people making money off of the tax payers. Is there waste and fraud occurring with workers not earning the money they are paid? Yes, there is and always will be. You again try to leave/sell the impression that all of this started after President Obama took office and not anything is being done to limit the percent of people abusing the system without getting fired. Yet, you overlook what the private financial sectors do which can cause the financial upset of our economic and as history proves about the Republicans' actions are to do nothing, sitting back to wait for the "capitalist" to correct the "mess" they caused, not wanting the Governments to do anything regardless of how long it takes the private sectors to act. How many of the CEO's continued to get their millions after the 2007 deep recession.

October 24, 2011 at 1:21 p.m.
AndrewLohr said...

carl, I don't think the Free Press said the Bush administration did any better than the Obama administration at firing or laying off federal workers. The paper just said federal jobs are more secure than private jobs to an extent that indicates a management problem and a lack of solidarity with the suffering private sector.

October 24, 2011 at 7:58 p.m.
carlB said...

Reply to AndrewLohr: AndrewLohr, thanks for your reply.
What would you say the purpose of the Free Press Opinion was? Did you notice the years the opinion listed? Do you agree with the Free Press's opinion that a tax paid worker should not have a life time Job? If the Federal job is necessary, and the worker does their work in a satisfactory manner, why should they get fired? I took offense to the insinuations of the Fp opinions.

Quote; "In the 2009-2010 budget year, for instance, not a single one of the 1,832 employees

Here are some other stunning statistics about extreme federal "job security": * Only two of the 4,211 workers at the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission were fired or laid off in 2009-2010

Totaling it all up, USA Today found that "The job security rate for all federal workers was 99.43 percent [in 2009-2010] and nearly 100 percent for those on the job more than a few years."

Among federal workers located in Washington, job security was almost absolute: 99.74 percent. And job security in the federal workforce was even higher for employees earning $100,000 a year or more: 99.82 percent

That is particularly troubling because the wages of our country's bloated, 2.1 million-member federal workforce are paid by taxpayers. Government jobs should be given -- and continued -- strictly on an as-needed basis. Gaining a position in the federal government should not be a guarantee of virtually lifetime job security.

Taxpayers cannot afford that even in good economic times -- much less in the current hard times." Unquote

October 24, 2011 at 9:20 p.m.
holdout said...

And yet there is an article in the same paper about how the massive cuts of government jobs is dragging the economy down. And yet the same people who complain about too many government workers also complain about long waits at the DMV and Post Office. And yet the same people complaining about too many government workers complain about the condition of the streets, the lack of Police in their neighborhoods, and not getting their leaves picked up. And yet the people complaining about the numbers on the Federal payroll want to keep a huge active duty military and stick the U.S. in every problem that not our business that they can find.

October 25, 2011 at 8:46 a.m.
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