According to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently 6 million Americans who are unemployed. Though that’s still less than pandemic levels, it’s not exactly breeding confidence in those workers who fear being laid off or fired.
However, one sector of jobs seems to be ironclad: The U.S. government. Federal workers are very rarely fired or laid off and have more protections, according to a new article in the Washington Examiner. This is partially due to President Joe Biden putting a stronger push on hiring union workers for these jobs, more so than Trump did before him.
The article noted recent data that shows just 4,000 of 1.6 million government workers lost their jobs in recent years — just 1% of the population of people holding these positions. And for those who are dismissed from their gigs, they usually get the job back through the work of an arbitrator. The American First Policy Institute has reported that over 50% resume their roles after being let go, and usually with back pay.
“The combination of lengthy delays, followed by high reversal rates and back pay obligations makes attempting to dismiss unionized employees very risky for agencies,” the study from the AFPI pointed out.
In fact, Washington Business Journal reported that it can take up to 370 days (more than a year!) for any federal employee to be fired. This is because there’s strict protocol with several key steps before dismissing a worker. It includes monitoring performance and providing feedback, documenting instances and bringing in other departments, a mandatory probationary period and drafting up dismissal paperwork that has to be signed off on.
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“On top of that, employees then have rights to appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board. And during the whole dismissal process, they may make a request for reasonable accommodation, file a grievance or file an equal employment opportunity complaint that adds time to the process,” the outlet elaborated.
Given the amount of time it takes, as well as the high rate of termination reversal by the arbitrators, most higher ups in the departments skip the process altogether.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you can just slack off and have no consequences in these roles. According to Chron, you can still be fired, but it has to be for a just cause with proper procedures followed since — unlike most private sector jobs — federal employees are not at-will workers.
The other benefit is there are a range of federal jobs people of all skill sets and levels of experience can apply for. According to FederalPay.org, the most common government gigs include nurses, compliance inspectors, information technology managers, social insurance administrators, general attorneys and border patrol enforcement officers, among many others.
According to Indeed, the highest paying government jobs include physicians and anesthesiologists, political affair officers, mathematicians and mechanical engineers, which rank in the top five.
Indeed also touts the additional benefits (along with job security) that come with federal employment. Among them include comprehensive healthcare plans and pensions, competitive salaries including raises and promotions and work-life balance with every federal holiday a paid day off.
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