Group Calls 273,000 Jobs Critical

Thursday, September 3, 2009

If there's one place that knows almost as much about Uncle Sam's workforce as he does, it's the Partnership for Public Service. The latest example of that is the report the good-government group plans to issue Thursday on key positions Sam must fill for the government to provide the services it should.

While it's fairly well known that Sam intends to hire enough people (the Partnership estimates 600,000) over the next few years to populate a good-size city, in "Where the Jobs Are," the organization focuses on some 273,000 "mission-critical" positions it estimates the government will need to fill by the fall of 2012. The report defines those gigs as "positions considered crucial by agencies to fulfill their essential obligations to the American people."

Max Stier, the Partnership's president and chief executive, told us that the 273,000 jobs would represent a 41 percent jump in critical hiring over the past three years, with the health and security professions and the departments of Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security and Defense leading the way. Below are excerpts from his responses in an interview with The Post (the questions have been paraphrased):

QWhat factors are

driving the need to

increase hiring?

A. . . The first being a fair amount of talent loss, primarily driven by retirement, and these are jobs that have to be backfilled.

The second piece is that we have a fair amount of pent-up demand in government, a lot of agencies that have either been flat-lined or have seen their numbers decline for quite some time, and they need those new people to at a minimum keep up with the challenges that they face.

Examples of that include the Social Security Administration, which obviously is seeing increased demand, but historically has not seen its workforce grow in order to meet it, as well as agencies like the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which had one employee who was responsible for testing toys coming in from outside the country.

The third is the need to address new challenges. We're obviously facing a whole set of extraordinary challenges as a nation, and the government has been called on to do new things, everything from reviving the financial sector to addressing global warming to dealing with the consequences of two foreign wars.

The most dramatic example of that is the hiring that the VA needs to do. The medical category is the number one category of hiring that we're projecting.

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