By Sabatani Shetu
Government jobs and positions have always been thought to be stable, dependable and out of the realms of fluctuation, but recent developments as seen in the U.S federal government shutdown from Oct. 1-16, are proving this notion false. Pair that with the constant sequestration and furlough of federal employees and the question arises: what does this mean for students looking to go into government, whether it’s working with a federal agency, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation or Environmental Protection Agency, or going into politics?
Prior to the government shutdown, 55-year-old administrative assistant at the Environmental Protection Agency Elizabeth Lytle, already had to skip six days of work due to sequestration, according to the Huffington Post. These unpaid work days cost the Illinois employee roughly $1,000 and a very important dental procedure Lytle had to dip into her savings to pay for. When the dreaded 16-day government shutdown came around, Lytle experienced even more financial hardship.
“I think it’s all pretty unpredictable. Many aspiring civil servants are not secure that they will one day have a stable, well paid job after they graduate.” Dominick Johnson, current GPC student and Business major said, referring to government instability.
Johnson’s main concern is primarily with future teachers and the education majors that are passionate about teaching in the public school system however are discouraged by the poor pay wages teachers receive. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported earlier this year about the major cuts in budget the school systems in metro-Atlanta, including Gwinnett, DeKalb, and Cobb counties are experiencing. Cobb County notably laid off 128 teachers this year alone after passing their 2013-2014 budget resulting in an additional five furlough days for teachers.
“I’m not so worried about the federal government. They’re huge; they’ll always have the resources and money available. It’s state and local governments and municipalities I’m worried about.” Johnson added.
However, it’s not all bad news for those who want to go into government. As of 2011, the United States Office of Personnel Management reported that there were over 4.4 million employees working under the federal government, including executive branch civilians, uniformed active military, and legislative and judicial branch personnel, a number that has not changed much since. Just last month, USA today reports that many of the big government agencies such as the Defense Department, the Social Security Administration, and the Central Intelligence agency are bringing back up to 8,000 federal workers out of furlough prompting the diminishing effects of the government shutdown.
“I think the job market for political science majors is as strong as ever. Mainstream Democrats and Republicans will keep writing checks to fund various agencies and departments, ensuring that the federal government remains as massive as ever. Having four or five million federal government employees mean plenty of opportunities for poli-sci majors,” Professor Jason Butler, a civics professor at a local high school said, adding the fact that the lobby game is recession proof unaffected by economic and federal stagnation.
Currently the job outlook for political science majors, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is at eight percent, which is slower than average, however there are still many opportunities and options available for those who wish to go into government.
“I would hope that students looking to go into public service will avoid the politics of obstruction that led to our recent government shutdown,” said Paul Hudson, U.S. History Professor at GPC Clarkston campus.