“No matter how much you love your job, everybody has their limits, their price,” said Linton, who grew up in Frederick, Md. “If Congress wanted to force young people out of federal jobs, then they are doing a great job.”
Disillusioned by furloughs and worried about budget cuts and pay freezes, many young federal employees such as Linton say that they can’t help but look toward the door.
The government and private companies alike are vulnerable to the departure of younger employees because they often have high-tech skills that are much in demand and they are willing to jump at new opportunities. While a government job still remains attractive to many, the continuing turbulence of federal work has made the government a less competitive employer.
Mid-career civil servants are voicing many of the same complaints as their younger co-
workers and share the same apprehension about the prospect of more shutdowns. But it is employees in their 20s and 30s who are finding it easier to secure private-sector employment in the sluggish job market, because they tend to be lower paid and can more easily move to new cities.
They are souring on government work just when they are needed most, experts say. The federal government is amid a retirement wave, with nearly twice as many executive branch employees leaving in the past fiscal year than did in 2009, according to federal figures.
“The shutdown was the perfect storm in turning millennials off from a career in government,” said Jason Dorsey, 35, chief strategy officer at the Center for Generational Kinetics, a private consulting group. “They are already everything the government is not: fast-moving, restless for change and entrepreneurial. So the shutdown was just one huge slap in the face, a wake-up call that said, “Why am I working here again?”
No one has compiled statistics on the number of federal workers quitting their jobs or looking to do so. But public employees say the chorus of dissatisfaction among young people is reaching record decibels.
“Leaving is the buzz from everyone I know who’s young and has a government job,” said Sam Nevarez, 36, who works in human resources management in the U.S. Forest Service in Albuquerque. He is also a national committee member of the Young Federal Leaders, a union program that mentors federal employees.
Nevarez, who makes $37,000, is polishing his résumé. He helps support his elderly parents, and during the shutdown had to borrow money from his brother, who works in banking.