Poll finds Uncle Sam’s popularity up among job seekers

More Americans are interested in federal jobs, according to a Gallup poll released on Thursday.

Between 2006 and 2009, the number of respondents who told Gallup they were considering federal employment rose from 24 percent to 40 percent. Those respondents said the quality of benefits, job security and work-life balance were the factors that most attracted them to federal jobs. But 71 percent said they were seeking a job that would enable them to make a difference, and 65 percent of respondents reported an interest in helping to fix the country's problems.

The federal government must capitalize on that trend, said Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., on Thursday at the kickoff to Public Service Recognition Week on the National Mall. Lynch is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Federal Workforce Subcommittee.

"President Obama talked about making government cool again and encouraging younger people to pursue careers in public service," Lynch said. "Hundreds of thousands are again interested in government service, and we must do everything we can to cultivate and encourage this interest to combat the impending retirement wave."

Lynch has backed legislation to provide federal employees with paid parental leave and to make it easier for federal employees to work part time before retirement.

Other lawmakers on Wednesday also urged the government to take advantage of the public's interest in Uncle Sam as an employer.

"The quality of government service depends on the talents of the people we're able to put to work," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., during a Wednesday lunch recognizing the finalists for the Service to America Medals, sponsored by the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service.

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., said at the same reception that he believed Americans and his congressional colleagues were exhibiting a greater appreciation for public servants, which could make it easier to pass management reforms.

"I'm going to be an advocate for public service," he said, "but I don't think it's an uphill push."

Max Stier, president of the Partnership, also praised Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Federal Workforce Subcommittee, for introducing legislation to simplify the federal hiring process. Of the Gallup poll respondents, 45 percent who had applied for a federal job said they found the process difficult, and 47 percent said it took a great deal more time than applying for jobs outside government.

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