Promising Practices Promising PracticesPromising Practices
A forum for government's best ideas and most innovative leaders.

Analysis: What Will Furloughs Mean For Young Feds?

Image via Stephen VanHorn/

One of the main concerns for all federal employees are mandatory furlough days. With budgetary cuts as harsh as 11 percent for some departments, furlough days will be used as a way to trim some of the spending by federal agencies.

While one or two days a month do not seem at first glance to be that detrimental to an employee’s paycheck, state furlough programs have proven otherwise. In California, UC Berkley’s Center for Labor Research and Education found that the three mandated furlough days per month during the 2009-2010 fiscal year amounted to a 13.8 percent reduction in salary, which is almost two months of pay per year. The study found that this hardship could possibly be linked to increased levels of stress in the workplace, more careless work errors and possibly higher turnover rates.

What could this mean for young feds? One of the main concerns for young employees is the growth of student debt for professionals under the age of 30. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, as of September 2010, student loan debt surpassed credit card debt for the first time ever, and in 2011 it surpassed automobile loans. According to the Project on Student Debt the average amount of student debt for the Class of 2011 was $26,600. A 2012 Young Government Leaders (YGL) survey found that the average debt load of respondents was $47,400, due in part to over half having a masters degree or higher. Young feds count on their newly acquired government jobs to help ease the burden of debt through salaries, and even loan repayment assistance from some agencies. In the same YGL survey it found that 43 percent of respondents had one month or less of savings with 25 percent living paycheck-to-paycheck.

The implementation of furlough days could lead to higher turnover of younger federal employees due to disenchantment with the benefits originally promised by their respective agencies. Or, on a more basic level, young feds may leave the public sector out of financial necessity.

Young feds that are new to the public sector  and hit with furloughs may find more security in the private sector, as they are more apt for lateral career mobility due to their lack of familial and financial constraints. What does this mean for the public sector as a whole? This could create less of a base to build future high-level positions in federal agencies, particularly in areas of defense where sequestration cuts could hit the hardest. Young feds will not be the only ones losing when furloughs take effect. Furloughs will be detrimental to the future of federal agencies as they become less attractive career paths for young graduates and professionals.

Continued congressional gridlock between the executive and legislative branches should be cause for worry for federal leaders everywhere. It’s not just their respective budgets on the line. It could very well mean stagnation in the future productivity and growth of the public sector.

Image via Stephen VanHorn/

Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.