investing · Personal Finance

Why You Should Work For The Government

Some years ago I was party to a conversation about various career fields. One participant noted they hoped to get hired by the federal government, which another dismissed as “under-achieving.” This did not seem to faze the first chap, who just shrugged and gave off a satisfied smile.

Looking at some recent stats, we can see why. As private sector industries such as hospitality and leisure bleed jobs like the hemorrhoid circus, government is one of the few examples with a net positive rating, and the highest performer among the winners.

Even as the economy goes bad, the government continues to operate, paying out salaries to workers who might be deemed “non-essential” and laid off if they were in the private sector. This gives state employees a tremendous economic advantage over those who are losing their jobs (or getting less hours). They will not face the disruption native to other industries, and therefore can more easily buy into the discounted stock market or real estate.

Beyond this, government workers aren’t treated all that badly. The current federal model of FERS, which has been replicated by many state and local governments, provides a far more stable benefits package than the vaunted private sector. Participants get access to a Thrift Savings Plan (basically a 401k) with up to 4 percent matching, and a pension that comes to around 33 percent of their highest three-year salary, along with Social Security. Healthcare plans are decent as well.

The skeptics among you might point to the recent government shutdown as an example of disadvantages, but government workers ultimately received back pay, while most of the workers affected by coronavirus will not.

So if you have a child someday, recommending a career in the civil service isn’t necessarily a bad idea.