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Why do you work for the government?


Some people claim that the federal workforce is overpaid, but in reality there's no way to characterize the entire workforce so broadly. While some feds do earn more in the government, many of them labor for agencies while knowing they could be earning more in the private sector, as many of their colleagues are.

So what motivates people to work for the government if they could make more money working for a private company? Is it a sense of patriotism? Public service? Simple habit?

One anonymous FCW commenter, responding to an article on a two-year salary freeze, provided an uncharitable view from outside: "Federal employees have pretty much guaranteed employment," the commenter wrote. "Federal employees don’t have to make a profit. Even the worst federal government employees are not let go, like they would be in the business world. The majority of contractors and nongovernment employees would gladly take reduced pay in exchange for a government job that was secure. If you work for a private company and they don’t make a profit, you are fired."

But even many federal employees seem to be growing disenchanted, especially in the past few months when Congress has floated proposals for pay freezes, hiring freezes, shrinking the workforce, implementing furloughs and other efforts to reduce the federal deficit by reducing the costs of the workforce.

"Many feds live paycheck to paycheck," wrote one such employee. "What you don't see on TV is the average Joe, who has a long commute, works long hours, and bends over to help the public. No stock options, private offices, etc. Yes, I have a job, but when the economy improves, as a fed my situation stays the same."

So what about you? If you're a federal employee, why do you work for the government, and why will you continue to, if that's your plan? Tell us what motivates you.  

Posted on Apr 22, 2011 at 12:18 PM


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