Considering a job with the Government may be a tough decision, at least in the financial aspect.
Nonetheless, many young, bright minds seek a position with the government. For me it has been a life long dream, but now in my mid-twenties, with student loans from undergraduate and graduate school, a child, a mortgage, a car payment and rent…I’m wondering can I afford it? But hey, that is life for all of us. I’m no different than any other govie. There is one common bond that binds us all together, we’re passionate about service!!
That said, lets take a closer look at the D.C. metro area and the costs young govies face when taking a federal job. Underpayment of young, bright, passionate minds, is the key reason for loosing them to the private sector.
Take for example the average entry-level candidate for government work (at least in the D.C. area). They are entering government as a GS-7 or maybe GS-9. The salary for a GS-7 to GS-9, D.C./ NOVA region, ranges from $42,209 to $67,114. (Source)
The average cost of a one bedroom apartment in the D.C. area is $1,100/ mo = $13,200 annual (www.rent.com).
The average cost of daycare in the D.C. area is around $13,967.
Cost of full-time care for an infant in a center, as percent of medianincome for married-couple families with children under 18 = 12%
Cost of full-time care for an infant in a center, as percent of median income for single parent (female headed) families with children under 18 = 52% (Source)
The average cost of transporatation can vary and has many complicated figures to calculate exactly what it costs by rail, bus, driving etc. Here are some facts.
Over the course of a year, parking costs for a vehicle can amount to an average of $1,850. (Source)
Calculate parking costs along with a 25 mile commute x 21 days a month at an average of 20 mpg (less in the city) and $2.87 for gas = $5,902 annual for driving expenses.(Source)
I’m not sure how much the D.C. metro runs per year, but you know you can count on any drive time to the station and the average parking fee of $4.50/ day.
So how does it all add up? Well….
If you make $42,209 (-) expenses = $9,140
If you make $67,114 (-) expenses = $34,045
Now just for fun…that is gross numbers, and we didn’t even consider utilities, insurances, food, clothing etc. So on a month by month basis what does that look like for the average govie?
$9,140/ 12 months = $761.00/ 4 weeks = $190.00/ week
$34,045/ 12 months = $2,837.00/ 4 weeks = $709.27/ week
I don’t know about the rest of you, but you better hope you are on the upper end of that GS-9 payscale if you are going to make it in D.C. Factor in your student loans “the average undergraduate leaves college with more than $22,000 in debt…many graduate and professional students leave with loan balances of $100,000 or more,” (Source), and in you’re in for a rough ride.
So, what does it all mean…well…working for the GOVERNMENT DOESN’T SUCK. But for anyone that believes that government workers are overpaid, I beg their pardon. Most of us are working for the government because we are PASSIONATE ABOUT WHAT WE DO.