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Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.

Job Security in Government

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A recent post on the Wall Street Journal's Real Time Economics blog highlights an interesting number: 7.8.

That's the median number of years government employees at all levels have stayed with their employer, according to Labor Department data. The comparable figure on the private-sector side is 4.2 years.

There's nothing really shocking about these numbers -- job security and long-term employment has long been one of the things that made working in the public sector attractive. And the demographics in the public sector simply are different: 75 percent of government workers are more than 35 years old, while in the private sector only 60 percent are.

What the numbers do reinforce, though, is the reason for the growing envy on the part of many private company employees of public sector pay, benefits and long-term prospects. Job security, after all is exactly what has eroded in the corporate world since the cataclysmic economic events of 2008 kicked off the recession we've been struggling to pull out of ever since. 

Of course, with a budget sequester looming, and long-term cuts in federal spending on the horizon regardless of whether across-the-board cuts kick in, job security in government may not be what it once was, either. 

Tom Shoop is vice president and editor in chief at Government Executive Media Group, where he oversees both print and online editorial operations. He started as associate editor of Government Executive magazine in 1989; launched the company’s flagship website, GovExec.com, in 1996; and was named editor in chief in 2007.

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