When Money is Tight, the Government Keeps Hiring

December 30, 2009 by  
Filed under Economics

I just had to share an article summarizing the collective hiring and firing practices of our state and local governments during this Great Recession. They are willing to raise taxes and fees and accept federal (our) dollars in a futile attempt to close their budget gaps. They are not so willing to drop government workers from the payroll. This will be a double-whammy for taxpayers in those jurisdictions because of the pension costs that are piled on top of everything else.

Does this mean that every government employee provides a service deemed essential? I suppose it does, if the “essential service” is helping the politicians keep their own jobs.

In the private business sector, if there were bureaucratic failures of the type that resulted in a crazed Nigerian bomber getting on a U.S. bound flight, heads would roll. How many government employees do you think will lose their jobs over that fiasco? You know how many – zero.

Can you imagine the government hiring explosion that will erupt when our economy improves sometime this next decade?

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13 Responses to “When Money is Tight, the Government Keeps Hiring”
  1. cjbr549 says:

    Actually, I think that government hiring, at least on the federal level, will decline, mainly due to the enormous deficit that our fearless leaders are now starting to worry about (since it could result in their not getting re-elected). And the state and locals are in a bit of a quandary; do they tax more and keep the employees, adding the burden that will put on the economy? Or do they lay off employees, adding that to the burden on the economy? The politically riskless avenue is the one that you pointed out, which has been taken.

    • MasterPo says:

      To quote Madonna: “Yea, and monkeys might fly out of my butt!” :)

      I know some states are letting a few employees go, but still just the merest fraction of their work force. But the Feds keep hiring.

      I worked at a Federal gov agency for several years (out of necessity, not choice) and trust me when I say once you were in you’d have to kill someone to be tossed out – even then you probably would still have a job somewhere in the system! 😮

      • Rick Beagle says:

        LOL! The US Armed Forces is indeed hiring, and shooting is not a job ending offense! 😉

        You know I had to add that right?

        Since we are in the mood of berating our federal government for their evident failures, I submit one of the top ten viral videos in an effort to support my hypothesis that the arrogance of Americans has more to do with our problems than we are willing to admit. Consider our tendency to worship the mighty buck over common sense items such as good customer service, quality work, and fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay? United is still paying for their lesson set to music and humor:


        Enjoy, and happy new year!
        Rick Beagle

  2. MasterPo says:

    So that’s now the “excuse”?

    If government actually *shurnk* and let people go that would add to the unemployment and economic woes?

    So for the sake of unemp and economy we need to *keep* government big and bloated??

    Just when I thought I had heard it all…

  3. Over the past 24 months, the gov’t has given federal employees 2-4% raises/yr in the biggest recession ever!

    Furthermore, 1,700 Dept of Transportation employees now make $174,000/yr!

    Check it: http://www.financialsamurai.com/2009/12/13/federal-government-employees-raking-it-in/

    • Rick Beagle says:

      Wow! $174,000 a year?! Holy crud, we need to pass some regulations!!!!! I would submit that organizations of comparable size pay far more to their employees than the FEDs.

      But I’m sorry, you keep up the usual rhetoric, didn’t mean to stop your roll. However, while you are bemoaning the pay of our Federal/State employees, I would ask you to consider how effective and what the pay rates would be if we let the private sector run them…. Call it a mental exercise.

      Rick Beagle

  4. MasterPo says:


    You should be asking: Consider how effective those services would be if run by private for-profit companies!

    Believe it or not, when you’re income is on the line efficiency, economy, and productivity become very important.

    IOW, a person in private business making $175k has probably done (and continues to do) more effective and productive things to warrant that pay level than someone in government!

    ps- The Devil is in the details! The link above (as well as all the news stories I’ve heard and read on the subject) don’t outline the details of the $175k jobs. I would bet a lot of that $$$ comes from o/t rather than straight 40 hrs/wk. And it may also include the imputed value of bennies. IOW, the actual base salary, while still probably very high, is far less than $175k.

    Not an excuse. Doesn’t make it right. But just saying you need to look a bit under the covers too.

  5. cjbr549 says:

    The 175K number is the top pay for anyone working as a civil servant for the federal government (it’s tied to congressional pay). These tend to be jobs that require allot of responsibility (executive level supervisors) or knowledge (highly experienced engineers and scientists). That level of pay for those jobs is probably much lower than equivalent positions in the private sector. I do agree that the fed will put off laying off folks for as long as possible, but it has happened before and will happen again. I think it will lag the recession quite a bit, but I think the current deficit talk will lead in that direction. Of course the first to go will be support contractors, then those eligible for retirement, then those close to retirement will be offered early outs and only then will a RIF (Reduction in Force) take place.

    • MasterPo says:

      Show me the last time the Federal gov had a mass layoff like what happens to you and me in the private sector.

      • cjbr549 says:

        Right after the end of the Cold War the DOD had a 15 year hiring freeze accompanied by a RIF. I expect that the DOD will be more vulnerable than other federal organizations once we are done in Afganastan and Iraq.

        • Rick Beagle says:

          If the current trends continue, I believe your analysis will prove prescient. Let me just add that as remarkable as this sounds, the federal government will only decrease in size if the Democrats retain control of the White House and Congress. If the Republicans regain control, the Fed will continue to grow. That may seem contrary to rhetoric, but by all measuring sticks it is accurate. Go figure. Republicans do a far better job policing our economy and federal growth when in the minority….

          Rick Beagle

  6. 18 months ago, 1 person in the Dept of Transportation made $174,000, now 1,700 people do. AWESOME! GO BIG GOVERNMENT GO!

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