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Folks recommend working for the government, poll finds

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

A majority of Americans would recommend pursuing a government career to a close friend or relative just getting out of school, according to a new Washington Post poll on perceptions of federal employees.

Fifty seven percent of respondents to the survey said they would recommend a public sector career, while a third of respondents said they would not. A majority of whites, and three out of four African Americans said they would do so, according to the poll.

Notably, more younger people than older people would recommend a government career: 59 percent of respondents aged 18 to 29 said they would suggest government work, while just 49 percent of Americans 65 and older said so.

Fewer Republicans than Democrats would recommend government service; 47 percent to 70 percent, but a majority of self-identified independents, liberals, moderates and conservatives said they would recommend applying for a government job.

The poll was of 1,002 adults nationwide was conducted Sept. 30 to Oct. 3. The survey's full results have a sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. Full results from the poll will be published in Sunday's Washington Post.

Would you recommend pursuing a government career to close friends or relatives? Why or why not?

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

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DEFENSE DEPARTMENT:
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FDA:
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GOVERNMENT WORK/LIFE/OPERATIONS:
Federal worker union blasts tea party in radio ad: The nation's largest federal worker union plans to air a radio ad in seven states attacking tea party-backed Republican Congressional candidates who promise to cut government spending.

NATIONAL PARK SERVICE:
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SEC:
SEC settlement with Rattner on hold: It's on hold because New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is seeking a similar deal.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | October 15, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener, Public Service  
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Next: Estimate: Government to make 125,000 new hires

Comments

What percentage of respondents follow the hate speech of the Beck/Palin/Rush crowd advocating violence against public servants, and castigating public service as evil?

Posted by: jbh3 | October 15, 2010 6:45 AM | Report abuse

I would not recommend Federal Government, especially the National Institute of Health (NIH) under the leadership they continue to appoint.

Posted by: hendersoncy | October 15, 2010 7:29 AM | Report abuse

The recent bashing of Govt workers by Republicans, Tea Party, Beck et al is a slap in the face to good men and women who sacrifice for our country. I've been a federal employee for 20yrs and I can remember working for 20-30K less than my fellow college engineers who chose jobs in the private sector, but I wanted to make a difference with my life and chose the Federal Govt. Now I have to listen to these conservative blow hard degrade my decision and service. It is UN AMERICAN!

Posted by: bam1969 | October 15, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Of course parents would recommend a government career. It's guaranteed security. High pay, and great working condition's.

That's the problem. Government jobs are way too cushy and have too many benefits. It's time government workers became as productive as their private sector sponsors--the taxpayers.

Posted by: cr8oncsu | October 15, 2010 8:59 AM | Report abuse

I'm a 25 year Federal employee. When I started, I earned just over $11K after being laid off from a job making over $14K. Yes, government employment is fairly secure but, a potential employee needs to have a fairly thick hide to with stand all the Fed bashing that goes on.

Posted by: Arggg | October 15, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

I'm a fed. I'd definitely recommend that new graduates seek employment at my agency because the work is terrific and unique to government. You can't do it in the private sector. The pay is satisfactory. The benefits are solid. But the work is key. I wouldn't recommend working at any government agency just because it's a government job. You need to have some passion for the mission, and you need to be qualified.

There's so much misinformation out there about federal government work. The "way too cushy" stuff is uninformed. The benefits are solid. That's it. I hear people mention how federal workers make more than private sector workers, but that's simply not true when you adjust for comparable work, education, and experience. I also hear silly things like federal workers getting free healthcare. I wish!

I agree that there's dead weight around, probably too much. But I've worked in the private sector and seen dead weight there, too. Make every effort to cut loose the dead weight, but let's not trash people the many, many very talented people that do very important work on behalf of the taxpayers (which, duh, happen to include us feds).

Posted by: DEFPOTEC1 | October 15, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

I would recommend it only to indivduals seeking a career path since it offers a rich training ground. It is not secure. It is not cushy. It is hard work that pays less than the private sector and requires that you put in time for which you are not compensated. Your contract is written in pencil that an executive order can erase. There is no such thing as "reasonable expectation".

Posted by: FractalTwo | October 15, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

I was a federal employee for seven years and would not recommend it to anyone. Just look into the eyes of those civil servants approaching 30 years of service, and they all have a glazed zombie look. They are the only group of people that actually wish they were older so they could retire. The rest of them are self-loathing and wouldn't survive five minutes in the private sector.

Posted by: fingal | October 15, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Contrary to popular belief (as spun by the unions), it is a HIGHLY cushy position. There are many GS-15s past their retirement date that are just showing up at work, goofing around, going home at 3 pm, taking plenty of telecommuting days, and restoring hundreds of hours of annual leave. You know who you are.

Posted by: fingal | October 15, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Fingal says: "Contrary to popular belief (as spun by the unions), it is a HIGHLY cushy position. There are many GS-15s past their retirement date that are just showing up at work, goofing around, going home at 3 pm, taking plenty of telecommuting days, and restoring hundreds of hours of annual leave. You know who you are."

I don't know these people. But I'll just assume, for the moment, that you are correct and that they do exist. Keep in mind, though, that there are plenty of us GS-15s who do actually work for a living. I'm by no means any exception and I put in long hours, have no idea how others manage to find time to "go to lunch," am chained to my blackberry nights and weekends, lose several days of leave every year, travel on the weekends (and not to nice places) and generally am a ball of stress. I also absolutely love my job - 100%. I wouldn't be willing to put in the hours if I didn't. I'm chained to the blackberry because I genuinely care whether things get done, no matter what it takes. And if I really wanted the leave, I'm sure I could push harder to take it. But frankly, I'd rather be where the action is and though I do treasure the vacation time I take, I'm always anxious to get back. Most of the people I work closely with are just like me - if not even more dedicated and working even longer hours. I also recognize I'm lucky to have this job, though I worked pretty hard to get here. Bottom line? For every bad apple there are half a dozen of us who care and who are getting increasingly tired of being lumped in with the rest of the slackers.

Posted by: vickistired | October 15, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

People like government careers because you have great job security, great pay and great benefits. However, government jobs rely on tax revenue to fund each and every position...thus, as our tax revenue evaporates from income, property and otherwise, who will pay these people in the future? So, by all means, let's create a huge government and then all we'll have to do to survive with consistency is have the FED buy government bonds to shore up our deficits and debt until the end of time. To all the remedials, that means that we already can't pay for police, schools and the current government model we have with the tax revenue we reaped even back to 2005. Yet, now, after revenues decrease by 50% in most areas of the country, we are poised to create more government programs and more government positions. Brilliant minds abound in this country.

Posted by: TheFreeMan | October 15, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

A government career does provide a steady income, decent benefits, and job security (for the most part) unless you do something extremely stupid or unfortunately get riffed. The problem is that recent graduates immediately want to be hired into a GS 9 or 11 position. Many people no longer have the patience to start at a GS 6 or 7 level and work their way up.

Posted by: blackforestcherry | October 15, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

I am a GIS Specialist working for a Fed agency and I am deaf. There is a reason for me to work for the Government is because the private sector would not hire me because I am deaf and they are scare to hire anyone with disabilities. There is a very high percent that private sector would fire disabilities for no reason. I would recommend to any disabilities working for the Fed Government because private sectors do not understand how American Disabilities Act works. I did work for a private company and only last 90 days. It is just prove to me that they ignore the law and find a way around the law.

Posted by: soils2002 | October 15, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

When I worked in industry, we had a phrase; we were "spread thick". There were too many people on projects. The apathy was everywhere. None of us had enough to do. We were mentally unchallenged, and we surfed the web counted the minutes until the end of the day.

I took a HUGE pay cut to come to federal service. As a Ph.D. in the sciences, my annual salary dropped by half, no more stock options, no more holiday bonus, and no more overtime. My vacation/sick leave plummeted to 4 hours a pay period instead of 45 days a year. Now I have to ask permission to travel to foreign countries for vacation and I must take random drug tests and maintain a certain lifestyle to keep my clearance.

What I gained was getting to have the best job in the world. It's exciting, I'm constantly busy, and I love the mission and my team. More importantly, my work is needed for this country. I love coming to work and don’t mind staying late. My team works hard and we are not spread thick.

I do recommend federal service for Ph.D.s if you want an exciting job. There's no money here compared to industry, but it's mentally challenging. And I agree, I would not recommend the NIH either right now.

Posted by: pinkdna | October 15, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

When I worked in industry, we had a phrase; we were "spread thick". There were too many people on projects. The apathy was everywhere. None of us had enough to do. We were mentally unchallenged, and we surfed the web and counted the minutes until the end of the day.

I took a HUGE pay cut to come to federal service. As a Ph.D. in the sciences, my annual salary dropped by half, no more stock options, no more holiday bonus, and no more overtime. My vacation/sick leave plummeted to 4 hours a pay period instead of 45 days a year. Now I have to ask permission to travel to foreign countries for vacation and I must take random drug tests and maintain a certain lifestyle to keep my clearance.

What I gained was getting to have the best job in the world. It's exciting, I'm constantly busy, and I love the mission and my team. More importantly, my work is needed for this country. I love coming to work and don’t mind staying late. My team works hard and we are not spread thick.

I often recommend federal service for Ph.D.s if you want an exciting job. There's no money here compared to industry, but it's mentally challenging. And I agree, I would not recommend the NIH either right now.

Posted by: pinkdna | October 15, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

This general argument about whether a government career is good or bad is kind of pointless because there are so many different types of jobs. There are plenty of paper pushers whose job is not that exciting. But other government careers include CIA officers, astronauts, and Supreme Court lawyers. In other words, highly rewarding jobs that you simply couldn't do elsewhere.

Posted by: carbon916 | October 15, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

70% of Democrats would recommend a government job.

Considering the Democrats are driving the economy to where government's the only growing sector, this is no surprise.

Posted by: srpinpgh | October 15, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse


If you have a passion for what you do, then consider working for the government.

I have been a fed for going on 31 years, started out as a GS-3. Since then I have changed occupations 3 times, completed 3 degrees, learned more than 5 languages, earned the highest certifications in 2 professions, and received too numerous commendations and awards to mention.

I have had ups and downs as a civil servant. Things are good now that I am at the top of the pay scale but it was a tough climb getting here. I stopped counting the number of uncompensated hours I put into my work years ago. Like my team members, I am driven by pride of ownership. I have worked with some very fine people. Have visited some quite remarkable towns in this country and most importantly have made a difference in the lives of individuals by the contribution I made toward completing the missions of the teams I served on. Like Vickistired mentioned, I too have put in long hours, generally do not take lunch, “am chained to my blackberry nights and weekends, lose several days of leave every year, travel on the weekends (and not to [easily accessible] places) and generally am a ball of stress”; and, additionally, have been a first responder to various locales after natural disasters, survived two riffs and a transfer of function and pay out of pocket for my professional dues and fees.

As civil servants we may not have the supplemental expense accounts, access to first rate tools and equipment, profit sharing and all of the other fringes that our counterparts in private sector receive, which does not bother me. What we do have is a proven track record. We get the job done. Yes there are exceptions, which is always the case but they are few and far between. I always remind the fed-bashers that I am proud to be a member of a workforce that lead the way in the building of this great country of ours and that accomplished the mission of sending a man to the moon and safely returning him home: Your tax dollars at work.

Posted by: Steady1 | October 15, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

If you have a passion for what you do, then consider working for the government.

I have been a fed for going on 31 years, started out as a GS-3. Since then I have changed occupations 3 times, completed 3 degrees, learned more than 5 languages, earned the highest certifications in 2 professions, and received too numerous commendations and awards to mention.

I have had ups and downs as a civil servant. Things are good now that I am at the top of the pay scale but it was a tough climb getting here. I stopped counting the number of uncompensated hours I put into my work years ago. Like my team members, I am driven by pride of ownership. I have worked with some very fine people. Have visited some quite remarkable towns in this country and most importantly have made a difference in the lives of individuals by the contribution I made toward completing the missions of the teams I served on. Like Vickistired mentioned, I too have put in long hours, generally do not take lunch, “am chained to my blackberry nights and weekends, lose several days of leave every year, travel on the weekends (and not to [easily accessible] places) and generally am a ball of stress”; and, additionally, have been a first responder to various locales after natural disasters, survived two riffs and a transfer of function and pay out of pocket for my professional dues and fees.

As civil servants we may not have the supplemental expense accounts, access to first rate tools and equipment, profit sharing and all of the other fringes that our counterparts in private sector receive, which does not bother me. What we do have is a proven track record. We get the job done. Yes there are exceptions, which is always the case but they are few and far between. I always remind the fed-bashers that I am proud to be a member of a workforce that lead the way in the building of this great country of ours and that accomplished the mission of sending a man to the moon and safely returning him home: Your tax dollars at work.

Posted by: Steady1 | October 15, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

I have worked for the fed 37 yrs: DoD, DA, DAF, DON, US Dist Court, 3 VA hospitals; VA has little money for supervisory and developmental training; hospitals see at least 3X more patients than staffed to handle. I never saw one "cushy job" in all the time I worked at VA. As a veteran, I was promised lifelong care at any VA, but Uncle Sam chose to go back on that promise. From the beginning of my federal service I was taught that I represent the taxpayer and must stand up against those who would violate the spirit of that principle and break the law; such issues most often manifest by a management culture that chooses an agenda that serves them vs the mission of the agency. Over the years I have seen social programs and laws enacted to benefit the ordinary citizen reduced or scrapped altogether during republican administrations in their neverending scramble for money, and successive republican administrations bash and belittle the federal employee and expect him to work like a robot instead of the highly qualified, thinking individual that job standards require to qualify and be selected for a position. The recent experiment with NSPS stripped federal employees of all rights and protections and reduced them to a condition of indentured servitude. It wasted a horrendous amount of taxpayer money until it was ultimately stopped. Some agencies are still dragging their feet converting back to GS; thus, more money is wasted. I have thoroughly enjoyed all my years of service, but have seen many improprieties or outright violations of law that I couldn't do anything about. The federal service needs bright, intelligent, dedicated and honest workers, whose primary motivation isn't to make as much money as possible off the taxpayer any way they can, but to carry out the vital work that needs to be done so we may all progress and our condition improve; but all too often, the self-serving opportunist secures a vantage point somewhere in the system, moves in and out of government and back again, accumulates more and more contacts as time goes on, and ultimately becomes another instance of an endemic menace that brings about terrible results that have a very negative impact on society as a whole. There are many examples of this tragedy in our society and our system of government; one that currently comes foremost to my mind is all the background behind the phrase "Rumsfeld's Plague." As for the statement in one comment: "a government career...guaranteed security. High pay, and great working conditions." NOTHING is guaranteed. My first 26 years of service was GS-2 to 6; next 8 yrs GS-7. Great working conditions? I'd like to know where this job is. As for the remark "as productive as their private sector sponsors--the taxpayers." Please. We all know about seasonal jobs and the common practice of laying up in bed collecting unemployment during off season. But it will never be my intent to fault the taxpayer. And it's a different service than it was 30 years ago.

Posted by: VioletBees | October 15, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

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