Social Security Administration

Federal jobs fast becoming an endangered species

March 10, 2011: 9:16 AM ET

Federal agencies are imposing hiring freezes, eliminating openings, and preparing for severe budget cuts, dashing the hopes and prospects of many upcoming graduates and other jobseekers.

By Elizabeth G. Olson, contributor

Only months ago, getting a job as a federal government worker was a reasonably safe bet. Private sector hiring was sputtering. Baby boomers at federal agencies were retiring in droves, replaced by newly recruited college graduates.

But before the class of 2011 could don their graduation caps, the federal job market has turned dramatically weaker. Agencies are imposing hiring freezes on new employees or filling vacant positions, as they wait under the raised hammer of a government shutdown at worst and severe budget cutbacks at best.

The resulting federal job shrinkage is due to huge budget deficits, which were already ballooning years earlier, with income tax breaks and two wars depleting federal coffers. The 2008 Wall Street meltdown pushed everything over the edge, and federal programs and personnel are now prime targets as deficit hawks complain the government is bloated and that employees work too little and are paid too much.

Dashed hopes for upcoming grads

The latest jobs forecast for 2011 college graduates found that the government is expected to fill 10% fewer posts than it did last year. The 2011 jobs outlook, by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, found that more than one-third of government employers plan to cut plans to hire new college grads -- the largest group of the industries surveyed. And government employers planning decreases are reducing their staff numbers by at least 25%. More

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