Government Jobs

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  • #1303320

    Joseph
    Participant

    Are government employees, on the local, state and/or federal level, generally better compensated, in terms of both salary and/or benefits, than equivalent or similar positions in the private sector?

    And where do employees of non-profit organizations compare in these terms to employees of for-profit companies?

    How difficult is it to obtain such positions?

    Is the job security, once working for government, better than the private sector to the extent of public perception that government employees are difficult to fire even if they’re not doing their job competently?

    #1303333

    jakob
    Participant

    ask someone from Baltimore, most of the community works for the government

    #1303347

    CTLAWYER
    Participant

    Traditionally, people sought government employment for job stability and benefits and traded that for a pay scale about 15% less than private business.
    In the past 10 years, government employees have found that contracts have been renegotiated resulting in givebacks, unpaid furlough days to help balance budgets and large-scale layoffs.
    New employees are often hired with different benefits and pension schemes than long term employees,
    Government work still pays less than the private sector with the major exception of education. A public school teacher will earn far more and have much greater benefits that a teacher in a private school or Yeshiva.
    In our community a teacher holding a Master’s Degree and 18 years of service (top of the contract scale) has a base pay of $92,000 per 186 workday year. This is not even close to the top pay rates here in Fairfield County.

    At the other extreme, town janitors start at $11.35 per hour while the local McDonald’s pays 18 year old part time beginning workers $13.25 and help spay for college after 9 months employment.

    I am painfully aware of local pay rates and benefits, as I’m a member of our Town Council and we have finally passed out budget which starts the fiscal year beginning July 1. New hires in management no longer are part of the Town Pension plan, instead they are forced into a defined benefit plan that is portable like a 401K. Unions lost their previous medical plans and are forced into the state employees plan which costs the employee more out of pocket and has less coverage. Except for classroom teachers and police, vacancies are not being filled…we still don’t know what funding form the State will be for the coming year, as they have not passed a budget in Hartford. We do not have municipal fire service, but volunteer fire companies.

    #1303424

    Joseph
    Participant

    At one time it was true that government jobs paid less salary than private sector (though had more benefits and job security). But from what I’ve been reading it appears that in recent years government salary is at least on par, if not not actually more, than equivalent private sector jobs. At least with governments of the larger cities, states and fed. (The smaller cities and states may still be behind.)

    #1303447

    Gadolhadorah
    Participant

    While  Trump and his chevrah run around disparaging government employees and “unelected bureacrats” and using them to scapegoat all of the government’s problems, the vast majority are dedicated workers who have a public service ethic and really are committed to their work. Studies show that compensation is slightly above market at the lower wage levels but substantially below market at the higher levels where most government employees could be earning substantially more for doing equivalent work in the private sector. While there needs to be more efficient hiring and firing practices, the system overall works reasonably well. Also, the number of federal employees is actually lower today than 20 years ago, notwithstanding an enormous increase in federal agency responsibilities. If anyone thinks it would be cheaper to hire a private contractor to do the work of a Department of Defense analyst, just look at the few studies that have examined so called “outsourcing” programs.

    #1303471

    yehudayona
    Participant

    While it’s true that public school teachers in the NYC area get good salaries and benefits, some districts are hiring certified teachers into teaching assistant positions and using them as teachers. That way they can pay them half or less of a teacher’s salary. In one such district that I’m familiar with, the teachers’ union officially represents the TAs but does nothing to benefit them.

    Public school teachers in many places do not get good salaries. The average teacher salary in almost half the states is less than $50K.

    #1303475

    yytz
    Participant

    It’s not *that* hard to fire a government employee, though there is a bit of red tape; bosses just don’t have the guts to do it when they should, just as commonly happens in the private sector.

    Government employees have good job security unless it is a temp job, of which there are many.

    Salary depends on job and level of government and for states and localities, the wealth and living expenses of the area.

    Government employment may be more compatible with being frum and having good family/life/Torah balance, since most government employees work a straight 8 hour day with no overtime or being texted at all hours.

    #1303468

    yehudayona
    Participant

    The New York State Court System pays well and has great benefits. Someone I know got a job with them many years ago after an extended period of unemployment and is now making in the $90’s.

    I hope the mods will allow the following post along with its link. It may help with parnassa for some CR people.

    This is from the Five Towns Shuls list:
    The New York State Unified Court system is currently accepting examination applications for Court Assistant positions.

    Court Assistants work in both the courtrooms or back offices of the New York State Courts

    By the close of filing, July 5, 2017, applicants are required to have: High School diploma or the equivalent and two (2) years of clerical experience*; or four (4) years of clerical experience*. Thirty (30) college level credits may be substituted for each year of work experience.

    Starting salary is over $45,000 ($50,000 in New York City)

    There are many examination based promotional opportunities. A career in the NYS Court System can lead to future examination based promotional opportunities offering salaries well in excess of $100,000 at longevity.

    There is no maximum age limit;

    Court Assistants initially accrue 20 annual vacation days, 13 annual sick days and 11 paid holidays. Vacation day accruals increase to 27 days after seven years.
    Court Assistants work 35 hours per week, and enjoy generous benefits and pension plans.

    Shomer Shabbos court employees have been accommodated in the workplace with alternative work schedules.
    All Shomer Shabbos applicants should check the box marked “Sabbath Observer” on the application form.
    The New York State Unified Court System is an equal opportunity employer.

    You must file for the exam by July 5, 2017. Test date is October 7, 2017 (Alternate date for Sabbath observers will be sent to applicants that request it)

    The list generated from this test is used to hire Court Assistants for the next FIVE years.
    You can take this test even if you are not looking for a job right now.

    link removed (but it didn’t seem to work anyhow)

    #1303482

    Avi K
    Participant

    Gadolhadorah, the problem is that they are dedicated to piling regs on the people. A number of books have been written about how everyone in the US in violation of some obscure law or reg. At least legislators are accountable to the people but regulators work in ivory towers. During the Obama administration the Feds alone added 20,642 new ones! Meanwhile, Netanyahu and Shaked are working to deregulate the Israeli economy and stop the flood of new private bills.

    #1303604

    yehudayona
    Participant

    Worked for me, but since the mods won’t let links through, just search for nycourts exams with your favorite search engine.

    #1303756

    Insofar as IT fields in NYC government (because that’s what I know), I’d recommend them but only after careful consideration of an individual agency’s system. Most city agencies are somewhat behind the private sector in technology. However, this can vary. Also, yes, you will be paid less then in the private sector. However, as a working mom who’s done both, I am grateful everyday for my city job. I leave work at the end of the 8 hour day, and it rarely follows me home. If I elect to work later, such as when we’re doing an implementation, I get comp time. If you are Certified in your field (such as DBA), you will get paid more. Civil service computer exams were given this year, but the results have not been released yet. There are a lot of people in my shop’s IT who are making 100k+. And I don’t miss the pressure of the private sector at all.

    #1303858

    Joseph
    Participant

    AWOB, what’s the relevancy to the employee whether the agency’s IT system is using older technology?

    #1303899

    Because technology is constantly advancing. A while back I was offered a position in a different agency that was still running their databases in DBase, a long obsolete program. We geeky people who go for IT always want to stay current. Especially important for those who may want to reenter the private sector. Also because as new technologies come into play and younger people who are fluent in those skills are hired, you don’t want to end up sitting around gathering dust. At least I wouldn’t.

    #1304607

    Joseph
    Participant

    akuperma, please provide your valuable input on this subject.

    #1304720

    aishet chover
    Participant

    Regarding health insurance, NYC employees can have great medical, dental, hospital, and vision coverage without premiums and only minimal deductibles and copays while NYS employees have to pay premiums and higher deductibles and copays for slightly less extensive coverage.

    Job security depends a lot on your color.

    #1304746

    Joseph
    Participant

    aishet, are whites fired much more often in government jobs?

    #1304771

    akuperma
    Participant

    Whether a government job pays better than the private sector depends on the nature of the job, and how what looks at fringe benefits. In general, professionals are paid less than the private sector, but often have better benefits and working conditions (excellent medical care, secure retirement benefits, often a ban on unpaid overtime). Shabbos is much less likely to be a problem working for the government than working for a large employer in the private sector (as one as one avoids jobs that inherently require work on Saturday such as police, medical, etc.). In most government service, there is great job security even one is incompetent. Discrimination is not a problem, at least in civil service (patronage jobs are more like private sector).

    For non-professional jobs, the government tends to overpay. Thus the government rarely has problems recruiting clerks and janitors, but often has a problem recruiting professionals.

    Note that there is never an “upside” financially in government unless you are a crook. When you hear of someone who get rich while working for the government, assume they either had a side business or were corrupt. That’s especially true of those with political jobs (appointed as patronage, rather than merit selected).

    #1304788

    Joseph
    Participant

    How is government hiring conducted? Do government hiring managers tend to favor their own kind or friends or friends of friends? Or is government hiring strictly conducted based on merit?

    #1305583

    Hiring takes several forms. The standard is take a civil service exam and get appointed (what they call “called off a list”).

    City jobs are always listed on the official NYC website. Sorry, no links. You can start your search there. Once you’re in the listings, you’ll see that it has a lot of filters such as managerial, FT, PT, locations etc.

    Being hired as a provisional means, while you get the same civil service benefits, you’re not protected in the event of layoffs in the same way civil service employees are. But layoffs haven’t happened in a very long time, so I wouldn’t make that a criteria. BTW, new hires are enrolled in a Tier 6 pension plan which is a long distance from the famous NYC pensions our parents generation had. Also, the teacher’s union has a better pension as well. But the city does offer a pre-tax deferred comp option, which is a 457 plan.

    At the upper managerial levels you’re more likely to find the political appointees. But there often is a lot of turnover at that level every time we get a new mayor. But if you’re that “connected”, you should be able to land on your feet if you are laid off.

    #1305652

    akuperma
    Participant

    Federal civil service is by applying, having OPM rate your resume, and getting called for an interview. Filling out the application is important since that is where one can explain that you really meet the requirements (e.g. explaining why your years in kollel are at least the equivalent of a B.A. in humanities, to meet a stated requirement). Lower level jobs may involve testing, but professional jobs don’t. OPM gives a list of top candidates, and you get interviewed. The person making the decision has to explain the choice to his or her boss in writing. — Patronage jobs involve knowing people in the right places and often paying off people; these jobs often involve Senate confirmation. I believe only one person with a yarmulke has ever gone that high. — While federal jobs are all over, the highest concentration is in the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area (which includes some neighborhoods with affordable housing). The OPM website handles the whole country.

    #1305654

    Gadolhadorah
    Participant

    There is a centralized job listing website managed by OPM for most federal agencies (except for certain SES jobs, and excepted service jobs along with schedule C political slots) ….the hiring process has gotten somewhat better but still plan on at least 3 or 4 months and sometimes 6 months to a year. There are hiring preferences for veterans that trump (excuse the expression) merit based hiring decisions.

    #1305851

    Joseph
    Participant

    Is it fair to say that in many government jobs, once you’re past your probationary period, as long as you physically show up to sign in and sign out on time you can otherwise slack off on the job barely doing adequate work and have little worry about being fired?

    #1306051

    Joseph, I could be wrong on this one, but we know that if a worker slacks off on a job it’s as though they were stealing from their boss. In this case “boss” is the taxpapers, which is us. One of the reasons my city IT department is considered one of the best in the city in terms of what we do and accomplish is that it’s made up of people who care about their work in much the same way as the private sector. In fact, some people have left here, gone into the private sector and then come back (including our CIO). The few people who just sit around are not at all respected by their coworkers.

    #1306070

    Avram in MD
    Participant

    Joseph,

    Is it fair to say that in many government jobs, once you’re past your probationary period, as long as you physically show up to sign in and sign out on time you can otherwise slack off on the job barely doing adequate work and have little worry about being fired?

    It is true that it is somewhat difficult to fire a government employee, and many managers are loath to undertake the documentation necessary, but it is possible.

    Blanket hiring freezes and slowdowns likely make this situation worse. Managers may feel more inclined to deal with sub-performers if they knew the positions could be quickly refilled with qualified and high performing new hires.

    #1307143

    Avi K
    Participant

    Akuperma some yeshivot (including those in Israel for English-speakers) offer recognized BAs in Talmudic Literature. I now a rav who has a nephew who got into law school with one plus, of course, a high grade on the LSAT.

    #1307150

    aishet chover
    Participant

    Joseph- whites are not fired more frequently if they do their job properly. That is the extent of my experience…

    #1307151

    aishet chover
    Participant

    Joseph, even if slacking employees don’t get fired, their supervisor can make them want to quit.

    If they have such thick skin that the sup’s not succeeding in making their lives miserable, chances are they are already supervisors themselves, and at that level, yeah, they’ll fire you for slacking off.

    #1307444

    Gadolhadorah
    Participant

    OPM data shows that there are thousands of federal employees “fired” annually for a variety of reasons ranging from poor performance to violation of ethics rules or simple workplace issues such as threats of violence, theft, etc. Yes, its more difficult than in the private sector but it was meant to be so that a new administration could not arbitrarily create some “trumped up” excuse (bad pun) to fire those whose politics they disagree with. Every democratic government in the industrialized world has a career, non-political government workforce.

    #1307488

    Joseph
    Participant

    violation of ethics rules or workplace issues such as threats of violence, theft, etc. are easily fireable offenses since they are clearly wrongdoing.

    OTOH, slacking off and barely doing adequate work, as long as you physically show up and leave on time, are far harder to prove and fire for than theft or violence. And as Avram in MD pointed out, it is difficult to fire a government employee, and as a result many managers are loath to undertake the documentation necessary to do so. (Especially if a hiring freeze may result in no replacement.)

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