Retirement Tsunami – Is it happening?

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    Srinidhi Boray
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    Couple of years back it was projected that retirement tsunami would happen in the Federal agencies. I wonder what the real statics are now. Although several thousands of jobs were to be available in Federal owing to people retiring.
    Is this assumption still true?

    Article reproduced from Fedsmith

    Portion of the article below:

    o how bad is the impending “retirement tsunami”?

    • The average federal employee is getting old. The average federal employee is 46 and that is still getting higher each year.
    • The civil service has far more employees over age 45 (58 percent) than the private sector (41 percent).
    • Federal employees are leaving government service in increasing numbers. From fiscal years 2002 to 2006, annual separations of permanent full-time employees increased from 5 to 6.7 percent and the number of full-time permanent employees who voluntarily retired increased from about 30,300 annually to more than 45,000.

    The Partnership says that by 2012, federal agencies will lose about 530,000 employees. As one might expect from older employees, many of these folks are in leadership positions. Moreover, while the federal government’s “reinvention” initiative of the 1990’s reduced the size of the federal workforce by nearly 400,000 positions and left agencies with critical skills gaps.


    Part of the problem, and one that our readers have previously identified, is that the federal hiring process is slow, inefficient and sometimes indecipherable to anyone who may be interested in becoming a federal employee. And, while those within government are often aware of the important role of the federal government, the public perception of government employment sometimes resembles a Dilbert cartoon in the minds of the prospective employees.

    The government also has several arguments that attract new employees. Americans see federal jobs as being much more secure than those in the private sector and the benefits are often comparable or better than in private companies. (See “Uncle Sam as an Employer: Attractive Prospects But Execution is Questionable“)

    The Partnership says that several things have to happen within agencies:

    • Develop and implement workforce plans that identify and meet future talent needs, with OPM maintaining its leadership role.
    • Modify recruiting strategies to attract new talent, including at the mid- and senior- levels.
    • Streamline hiring processes, and make greater use of recruitment, retention, and relocation incentives, including student loan repayments.
    • Focus on retention, including taking steps to improve employee satisfaction, and strategically using workforce flexibilities to help retain experienced talent.
    • Congress needs to enact legislation to allow retired federal employees to return to government part-time and still retain their pensions.

    As one of our authors pointed out recently in “A Shift Will Happen in the Future,” attitudes about older employees are changing and many retirees from private industry will want to work for the government–if only to take advantage of the health benefits or the Thrift Savings Plan offered to federal employees.

    But the reality of aging isn’t going to go away. Our nation’s government needs to attract and to hire college graduates. Look for changes in benefits or new legislation to make it easier to hire new people as the problem becomes more acute.




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