Federal Employees: We Don’t Like Our Jobs Either

Federal Employees: We Don’t Like Our Jobs Either

Lawmakers vow they won’t shut down the government. But many federal employees might be pleased if they did.

Only about half of federal employees are happy with their jobs and would recommend their agencies as places to work, a recent survey finds. That puts employee job satisfaction at its lowest mark since the survey began 11 years ago. 

Federal employees say they’re unhappy with their pay, and seven of every ten say promotions are based on favoritism rather than merit. “If someone’s really toiling away doing the day-to-day work of the agency, it seems like those things don’t get recognized,” an EPA scientist complained to The Washington Post. 

Yet if federal employees are truly unhappy, they aren’t voting with their feet. 

“The federal quit rate — a decent measure of employee satisfaction — remains at less than one-fifth the level of private-sector professional employees,” Andrew Biggs of the think tank AEI told The Washington Times after an early survey was published.

In fact, as millions of Americans were losing jobs during the recession, federal employees enjoyed almost complete job security. Only 385 people were laid off in FY 2011, a 0.02 percent rate.

“Rather than indicating something positive, rates below 1% in the firing and layoff components would indicate a serious management problem,” management expert John Sullivan told USA Today. The newspaper added that: “Federal employees’ job security is so great that workers in many agencies are more likely to die of natural causes than get laid off or fired.”

As the Post notes, the employee dissatisfaction: “poses challenges for President Obama as he pursues an immigration overhaul, tax reform, rules to limit greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change, and other policies in his last two years in office.” 

The answer seems obvious: a smaller federal government that tries to do less. If that wouldn’t improve the morale of federal employees, it would certainly do wonders for the rest of us. 


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