Are Government Jobs Better Than The Private Sector?

I overheard a woman tell her daughter and her boyfriend who just graduated from college to look for a government job rather than applying for a position in the private sector. She said that when she was starting her career in the workplace that the place to be was in the private sector, but now she thinks that the place to work is in the public sector.

She built her case based on the private sector jobs having a “shelf-life” of usefulness, the lack of security and the most-likely pension opportunity as being the place to work. This struck me as being both accurate and perhaps a wise move for the younger job seekers looking to choose a career.

I have indicated in an article I wrote on “The Hidden Job Market” that government jobs were a good place to look for work, yet I never meant for this to be the end all for a career. I still believe that there are plenty of opportunities in the private sector for those with advanced degrees and current marketable skills. Yet, this woman had a point when she said that the public sector would offer more stability and a pension after a twenty year period than the private sector.

She said that if someone opted to work in the private sector and made more money that they would need to save a large portion of it for their retirement, of which is not happening much by most. We in the U.S, save less than 3% of our annual income for retirement, which is not nearly enough to prepare for retirement, where as many public jobs offer up to 60% of annual wages in retirement.

The fact is that many of us will not have the aptitude for developing mobile applications or become the next social media guru. Most of us will have nice paying jobs that offer a comfortable lifestyle for now, but not much upside income in later years. Staying on top of your career in the private sector will take more effort as the competition for jobs increases as does our national debt that will lead to higher inflation which will give us less disposable income, making it more difficult to save for retirement.

Public jobs are becoming more appealing as the salary levels have increased and pension structures remain intact. We as a society will be paying more money out of our paycheck to fund the public sector jobs and the attached pensions. This is the new reality in the job market. Perhaps, it is time to look into government positions and see if it is a fit for you.

Check out http://www.govtjobs.com/, a free site for available public sector jobs. Let me know your thoughts on this career path.

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  • I went to my school reunion about a year ago. I was not in touch with any of the people over the years. I thought I see how everyone was doing over the years. Many had jobs with various Chicago departments. Many never went to college, but have nice city pensions awaiting for them. Those city jobs that their fathers or uncles gave to them after high school paid off. I was shocked to find out how few of us went to college and working the private sector. Several were in business themselves, but again, a business handed down by the family.

    Those went through the public servant route, and never paid college tuition, will be far better off than us who went to college and working in the private sector.

    I myself took time out for awhile teaching for several years. I enjoyed it. But I lost that job due to a school administrator who wanted me to change grades for some athletes who failed. I refused, and lost my job for it. At the end, the kids lost out on my knowledge I could have passed along. That school administrator still has his job, which pays $185,000 a year. His job was just to move the kids along in his school and put them out into society without the knowledge they should have learned. To him, they were bodies. To me, they were people who wanted to learn.

    One of the problems many towns and cities that will face in the coming years is who will pay for all these large pension funds for police, fire, teachers and other civil servants? After 911, and the housing boom, many local govt's, had revenue coming in. Many civil servants received large pay raises and pension funds. Now the property values dropped, sales revenue dropped, less income, more debt. Illinois ranks #1 in the country with crisis in state pensions. We are on the verge on bankruptcy. Way out of this is to raise your taxes even more. Are you prepared to make sure these public servants have a better retirement life than you will have?

    Jobs in public sector? Do you have a family member who is alderman, or a local public elected official? Know anyone who runs a city department? Are you a young lady who has a boyfriend who is a manager or works for HR at a local town govt.? Know on school board member to become a teacher? If not, you are S-O-L. You need to know someone to get a govt. pay check these days.

    I have a high ranking military friend ready to retire. Nice pension package for her. Over $72,000 a year. She never saw a day in a war zone. But she did her service and now can seek a private or civil servant job related to her military field.

    There are politicians / civil servants who have several state pensions coming in for them. I know one who has four pensions, due they worked at several towns and counties in a supervisor role.. Talk about double dipping.

    Florida has a law where a civil servant can retire from the job with full pension, and get re-hired to get another pension in another department. Again, the taxpayers will be picking up the tab to make sure a civil servant has a better retirement lifestyle than they will.

    We all saw what Corporate America and our politicians have done in the private sector. Sending jobs overseas, hiring H1-B's at a reduce salary. The college educated who sacrifice their years to become successful, were stabbed in the back by their employers and thrown out in the street so the CEO's can make more money and hire Foreigners who will work for less salary. Just ask Bill Clinton and his lawyers friends made with all the immigration fees they made off on these H1-B's.

    Now older educated Americans (50 plus) cannot find jobs in their field. Age Discrimination is the new order. Management looks at older workforce as being slower, but wise of how upper mgmt works.

    Corporate America rather have college grads work for them 60 hours a week, and getting paid for only 40. If the college grads revolt, out the door and hire the next batch of college grads. Corporate America has become a revolving door with employment. Those who are in management now and in the position to hire, do not want to hire smart workers, or workers who could become aggressive to advance with the company. Corporate America wants Free Labors to work for them.

    The thinking of today on what should be taught when you go to college should not be, what career job you want in life, but how can you produce jobs for others. Be the Employer, not the Employee.

    Working for cash can also help. Nothing wrong being a Plumber, Electrician or even a Stripper. The Govt. never really knows how much "cash only" workers really make. And our society is not honest. But if you want a "License to Steal" in life, then be a Lawyer. They make an average of $500 an hour. Win or lose, lawyers always get their money. And they too like to add on a few extra billing hours to their clients.

    Bottom line, college education will not set you back in life. Knowledge is far better than any amount of money.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Thanks for your comment Cubs Talk, always appreciate your insight.

  • Just read this article of yours lately. Though your story is actually true and acurate, what concerns me is, like CubsTalk said, who will pay for all these pensions and even the salaries? Ignored by average Americans, most states actually do NOT have the money to pay what they promises in terms of pension benefits. When corporate jobs is no longer better than government jobs, we are actually heading downhill. That's right, America is heading downhill. It's only a matter of when will people catch up with reality. Every year, about 1/2 of states expenditures are allocated for employee benefits payment suchs as healthcare and pensions. I fear that the next generations will pay dearly for the current mishab. And, with the current state of the political landscape, I am not seeing that things will turn around anytime soon. I wish I were wrong.

  • Thanks, ConcernPals. I am with you on this one. I totally agree that we are headed in the wrong direction with government jobs having more benefits and security and even more pay than the private sector. It is becoming a smaller pool of people who will have to pay for those on social programs and government jobs. Right now only 60% of the people pay into the system. Good-bye middle class.

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    I think the best answer is depends. The government jobs are in general more stable than private, but it's not without its pitfall. The government is at the mercy of the congress for its money. If President and the congress can not come together and agree on the budget, then government will be shut down, as seen in October of 2013 when over 800,000 federal employees were furloughed, essentially forced into unpaid leave. More detail can be found here

  • In reply to Bruce Ji:

    Thanks for your comment, Bruce. Yes, government jobs are dependent on being funded by the tax payers, and yes, there are a few instances where politics come into play over getting a balanced budget in place, which never happens. Our government then goes back to business as usual. I still think that having a government position is the way to go for stability and long-term benefits.

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