Death More Common Than Layoff in Fed. Agencies

Thursday, 21 Jul 2011 11:51 AM

By Abigail Walls

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Job security is hard to come by for many Americans — but not for federal employees, USA Today reports.

Rather than poor performance, misconduct or layoffs, death is the primary threat to job security in the federal government, the paper reports. Only 27 of 35,000 federal attorneys were fired last year. None was laid off. Death claimed 33.

The job security rate for all federal workers was 99.43 percent last year, and nearly 100 percent  for those on the job more than a few years.

John Palguta, former research chief at the federal Merit System Protection Board, told USA Today that the data underestimates how poor performers are weeded out. Some federal workers quit before they are fired, Palguta said.

"The notion that you can't fire federal workers is a myth because we do it. But it doesn't happen frequently," he said.

USA Today found that nearly 60 percent of firings of federal workers occur in the first two years of employment, mostly workers on probation and outside the federal job protection system.

Blue-collar workers are twice as likely to be fired as white-collar employees. The federal government's 12,700 food preparation workers at 2.5 percent have the highest rate of getting fired last year.

White-collar federal workers have almost total job security after a few years on the job, USA Today reported. Last year, the government did not fire any of its 3,000 meteorologists, 2,500 health insurance administrators, 1,000 optometrists, 800 historians, or 500 industrial property managers.


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