'Pro-Government' Millennials Take Government Jobs, Discover They Suck, Move to the Private Sector


A few years ago, the buzz was about "how the millennial generation is the most pro-government generation and what this means for our future" as the Center for American Progress put it in 2010. What it meant is that a bunch of them took federal jobs hoping to work where the action is, and discovered that laboring for Leviathan kind of sucks. Now they're streaming out of federal employment, a little wiser for the experience.

According to the Washington Post's Lisa Rein:

Six years after candidate Barack Obama vowed to make working for government "cool again," federal hiring of young people is instead tailing off and many millennials are heading for the door.

The share of the federal workforce under the age of 30 dropped to 7 percent this year, the lowest figure in nearly a decade, government figures show.

By comparison, about a quarter of the country's labor force is under 30. The article adds that "employees under 30 accounted for nearly 9 percent of those who left the government in 2013, a significant figure given their tiny presence in the workforce."

The reasons for the exodus include a bureaucratic and byzantine hiring process that moves at glacial speeds, government shutdowns and limited opportunities once hired, and the bureaucratic internal culture.

"I had fantastic mentors and teachers in government. But there was a big question mark about what opportunities would be available for me," says Meghan Gleason, 29, who left the National Institutes of Health to take a consulting job at KPMG.

This squares with the results of a recent Office of Personnel Management survey, which found millennials rather less happy with their government gigs than federal employees from older generations, though they tend to like their immediate supervisors.


New-found disillusionment with the reality of government extends beyond those who have actually worked in the belly of the beast. In 2009, polling by the Pew Research Center found that only 42 percent of millennials thought government was "usually inefficient and wasteful." Six in 10 Americans over 30 held that low view of the beast. But when Reason-Rupe repeated the question earlier this year, 66 percent of millennials thought government was "usually inefficient and wasteful."

Reality is revelatory. And that "most pro-government generation" is growing, as we all do, wiser with hard-earned experience.

NEXT: Rand Paul Says Common Core Will Kill Jeb Bush in the Primaries. He's Right.

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  1. I have to join the chorus of people saying that the tattoo and the beard are douchey on their own, and the hair exponentially increases the effect.

    1. Wow I just about to type something very similar. Yeah you can’t have the Paul Bunyen beard and perfectly groomed hair at the same time.

      If you’re going to grow a long beard you need to go for the full Rasputin look.

      1. The Full Rasputin is related to the Full Monty. Th difference is that the Full Rasputin look will never die.

      2. Hipsters love authenticity, and they love it to be as inauthentic as possible.

      3. Do you really think Paul Bunyan just rolls out of bed looking like he does?

        1. Gingers can’t be models.

          1. I thought soullessness is a prerequisite for modeling.

    2. I don’t really care how men primp, groom, and accessorize. Have at it. I do none of that. I might run a brush tbrough my hair a couple times, maybe shave and put on a spot of cologne.

      1. cologne is for europeans and south americans. We don’t need that stuff here.

        1. Don’t you mean soccer?

          1. I thought all soccer players wore cologne and vice versa…

    3. It’s the fact that the tattoo is on the back of his hand- Charlie Sheen in Cadence style- that does it. It’s like you can tell he thinks that shouldn’t preclude him from getting any job he wants.

  2. The beard is douchy? Is someone jealous because they can only grow a peach fuzz beard?

    1. It’s beard and hair combo that he has that is douchy.

      1. I can go with that and add to it the self-satisfied look on that millennial model’s face.

        1. and the Russian sailor’s shirt.

          1. Are you a fag like him as well?

    2. Besides in my day men wore goatees.

      1. In my day, once we were too old for the “Hey, look at me; I’m a man!” chin patches, we were clean shaven.

        1. Beards are in, baby’s ass faces are out.

          1. beards are in for me because i’m fat and my fat face needs hairy camouflage.

          2. So you’re a follower? Got it. Others say it looks good to grow a ridiculous unclean thing on your face, so it must be true. You’re a sheep.

  3. I just look at the difference in years here: 2009 and 2014. 5 years means, let’s say, a 22 year old starts their first post-college gig. Then they’re 27. Older, sees how bureaucracy works, sees little hope for advancement beyond “Stamp guy” and how it takes two weeks to send a single letter.

    They learn a little bit about how the world works and get to see their friends or former colleagues off doing weird, nifty entrepreneurial things or making actual results in the private sector. All the gov’t worker can show for it? “I refused someone’s license renewal today.”

    It seems the Millennials are coursing through their 20s as expected. Pretty soon they may even get mortgages on good credit and start saying “trigger warnings” are pretty stupid.

    1. “I just look at the difference in years here: 2009 and 2014.”

      In 2009, the only people hiring kids with freshly minted degrees in history, English, and anthropology was the government.

      The unemployment rate hit 10% nationally in October of 2009.

      People rationalize whatever they’re doing. If you have to work for the government? Yeah, it’s not that bad. Hell, I’m doing a service to humanity!

      It was easy to be pro-government when no one else was hiring.

  4. How do Millennials feel about Lou Reed in the Rock Hall of Fame as a solo artist?

    1. Lou Reed is the most overrated musician EVER.

  5. In my work unit, steps are taken to deal with a poor performer who cannot or will not improve.

    As many as 29% of non-millennials agreed?

    1. Must maintain that fiction so that the great unwashed believe their stolen lucre is used for good.

  6. Many college grads are have no idea what the entry level job they take is really like. I’m sure many of these joining the government thought they’d be at the cutting edge of policy making, not filing
    Form 1153XYZ into “approved” and “rejected” piles. Similarly, a lot of marine biologist grads thought they’d be swimming with the dolphins, not scrubbing test tubes that held algae samples. Before one decides on a career, maybe one needs to intern in it for practical experience, talk to people actually in the career, and discount most of the exciting stuff they portray at “career day.”

    1. I’ve been in the insurance industry over 10 years and I have yet to be issued the jetpack I was promised.

    2. and discount most of the exciting stuff they portray at “career day.”

      … and everything that the popular media say or that “everyone knows.”

  7. I’ve been beating my head against a brick wall for 5 years that I’ve been working for Leviathan, specifically Dept of Army. Try to save the government money? (GET THE FUCK OUT!) Try to do things logically and efficiently! (THAT’S NOT HOW WE OPERATE! GET THE FUCK OUT!) Why not try this way instead? (POLICY DICTATES WE MUST DO IT THE WAY WE ARE DOING IT NOW!) Why are we throwing away stuff that works perfectly well and we know that we are going to need the in future? (FUCK YOU, THAT’S WHY!)


    1. A family friend was an auditor for the Navy for almost 40 years. We asked him one time what happened when they found discrepancies (which they always did). His response was that they file it in accordance with procedure and that’s as far as it ever goes.

      That and his take on the military budget was that it is a Gordian Knot. There is no way in hell they have a clue what they’re spending and where.

    2. Try to get anything at all done? Deal with an army of clerical staff who know that they cannot be fired, no matter how little they do or how slowly or ineptly they do it, and who have no interest in doing anything at work except making personal phone calls and the ever popular FYTW.

    3. As a junior Army officer, I was always speechless at the “budgeting” process. We scraped by for most of the year, being told that there was no money for anything (training ammo, vehicle parts, replacing broken equipment, etc.). Then, when September rolled around, suddenly there was a crapload of money and ammo available and we had to use it immediately. If we didn’t use it before October 1st, then someone would decide we didn’t need it and take it away from our budget. So, we spent the month of September wasting money and ammo to ensure we got as much as possible the following year.

      Rinse and repeat.

  8. I doubt the problem is just “government jobs”, it’s any job in any bureaucracy. I suspect working for GM or IBM or ATT isn’t much different, there’s too many employees doing too many things to allow people the latitude to do things their own way. You have to have a plan and everybody has to stick to the plan.

    1. Which is why a healthy economy needs a lot of small businesses, because innovation frequently comes from outside pressure.

      Thankfully, we’ve essentially destroyed the ability for small businesses to compete because the modern regulatory state needs a team of lawyers for any business to get done. Yay progress!

  9. Which raises the question in my mind – you always hear of the Pentagon buying those $600 hammers but how much does GM pay for a hammer? Sure, you can buy a hammer at Home Depot for $12 but that’s you on your time with your money and bureaucracies can’t and don’t work that way.

    If you need a hammer, there’s a requisition form to be filled out and a supervisor who gets paid to review the form and find out A) Do you really need a hammer? and B) What happened to the last hammer we gave you? Did you steal it, lose it, break it because you’re too stupid to know how to use a hammer?

    Then you have to issue a request for bids on the hammer – you don’t just go with Home Depot because the supervisor’s brother is the manager and one of the bigwigs is a major stockholder in Home Depot. More paperwork, more time, more highly-paid managers getting involved – including ones that make sure you aren’t buying hammers from Home Depot just because your brother gets a commission on selling hammers at Home Depot.

    Then once you buy the hammer, it has to be cataloged into inventory and accounted for in all the records before an employee actually gets to use the hammer he requested six weeks ago to smash a cockroach in the shitter.

    The alternative to that is trusting people to buy a hammer if they need one and not to buy a hammer if they don’t need one and there’s too many people who can’t be trusted.

    1. So what you’re saying is that it would be cheaper to let them steal 40 hammers that were bought at Home Depot than it would be to follow procedures.

    2. I worked for a small employer that once had the Plant Foreman count the band-aids every week because he was sure the employees were taking handfuls home.
      Sure they were – but forget about the value of the scrap that was being turned out every time the Foreman was in the medical room counting bandaids!

    3. If it’s anything like my company, I just buy my own damn hammer and bring it to work.

    4. The reality is that they aren’t actually paying $600 ea. for hammers. The Army will agree to a contract with a supplier where the supplier will produce a shit-ton of hammers for the Army and the Army will pay $10 million dollars for the supplier to buy materials and start making hammers and then pay $5 per hammer. Then the Army buys the first shipment of 25,000 hammers and has to pay the $5 per hammer plus the $10 million. This causes a ridiculous, headline-making $/hammer price. But the next shipment of 25,000 hammers only costs the normal $5 per hammer.

      If the Army actually buys the shit-ton of hammers, the price is pretty good. If they only buy 50,000 hammers, the price royally sucks.

      1. *The reality is that they aren’t actually paying $600 ea. for hammers.*

        Correct, but they have to hide the money they spent on secret projects like the SR-71 somewhere. Why not hide in in a 600 dollar hammer or toilet lid?

  10. ‘Pro-Government’ Millennials Take Government Jobs, Discover They Suck, Move to the Private Sector Mom and Dad’s Basement.

  11. Remember The Wonder Years. One episode was about the Dad’s job; Kevin wanted to know what his dad did. In a great little scene, he asks the old man, why did you decide to go into logistics and supply at norcom ? And the old man laughs. And Kevin doesn’t understand. His dad tells him it’s a funny thought, someone “wanting” his job. He had just done what he needed to do as a young married guy with a pregnant wife. The boy asks him what he had wanted to do. His dad says, “Sea Captain”.

    Some lucky few grow up to do their childhood dream. Most of us end up in the equivalent of logistics and supply at norcom.

    1. but at least our kids will get to nail Winnie cooper.

      1. Did Kevin ever ?

        1. In my mind they did. Oh, did they ever.

    2. Yeah, that’s a great episode.

      “Dad, what do you do for work?”
      “I shovel other people’s crap so you can eat.”

  12. I had fantastic mentors and teachers in government. But there was a big question mark about what opportunities would be available for me

    Yeah, “opportunities” is not the point of government work, friend. You’re supposed to just sit back and enjoy the bennies.

    And I’m always glad when there is cause to link this scene.

    1. Bullshit that kid was 22. He was 11.

  13. But do they get personal time after every social injustice to weep and reflect?

  14. My wife used to work for the Fed. She mostly watched Netflix on her phone.

    1. If the government laid off everyone who had nothing to do, not enough people would care when the government gets downsized (not that this is ever going to happen).

      1. NO. if the government laid everyone off who didn’t have anything to do the economy would implode.

        Government spending on employees- including military- is SO entangled into our economy that it would make the great depression look like a holiday if it was suddenly brought in line with where it should be.

      2. She was a “high performer” too.

        She begged me to let her quit and be a stay at home mom/homeschool kids. It was a good move

    2. My friend used to work for the DoD. Most of her co-workers were ex-military who watched porn on their PCs all day. She was harassed out of her job by a supervisor who was very ticked off about her high productivity.

  15. I know a certain fictional city government employee who would have warned them all away from their first impulse. Now, he’s got motivational posters.

  16. We recently interviewed an older lady for an open software engineer position. When I say older, I mean she was probably late 60s early 70s. I would guess the latter. Out of about 15 people working with my group, there are zero millenials. I think the youngest person is maybe 35. Wait, is 35 a millenial? I can’t keep up with this generational stuff anymore.

    Anyway, she had been working for the federal government her entire career and wanted out and into the private sector. No one asked her why, but I thought it interesting.

    She was sharp for her age, and I don’t doubt that she knew her coding. There were 5 of us doing the interview and we were all sufficiently impressed with her and were getting tired of interviewing people for this position. Me and a couple of the others tried to convince my boss to hire her, but he didn’t. Sorry, I have to say I think it was her age that he had an issue with. But I just came right out and said that one of the reasons I wanted her was to get her out of the government role.

    1. you can’t save people.

  17. government shutdowns and limited opportunities once hired

    Uhm, what government shutdown(s!)?

  18. I’d rather look at Jared Loughner’s booking photo than that cum guzzling douchebag.

  19. a bunch of them took federal jobs hoping to work where the action is, and discovered that laboring for Leviathan kind of sucks.

    What a surprise. Fetching coffee for a bunch of useless geezers in a drab bureaucratic senioritoracy while waiting for them to die off doesn’t fit their pans of world domination?

    I haz an amaze.

  20. And that is why we roll with it. WOw.

  21. I agree that Pauline `s storry is shocking… last week I bought a gorgeous Ford Focus after I been earnin $6233 this past month and over 10/k this past-munth . this is definitely the nicest-job Ive had . I actually started 3 months ago and pretty much immediately startad making minimum $71 p/h .
    Am join this way but you can join now

  22. Great way to share your thoughts infortunatly it’s a little bit confusing ….. however i would like to share my own simple tips to be more productive


  23. So they’ve been told all their lives that they are a special snowflake and then they go out and become part of the dirty heap of snow called government and their self image is taken down a few million pegs so they decide to make a run for the private sector… where they will likely have to contend with the concept of producing profitable results… which they hate, but must now come to grips with. I can only LOL and LOL hard at the irony.

  24. My wife got hired by the Dept. of the Army right out of college in contracting as GS 7. 10 years later she is a GS 15. I disagree whole heartedly with the size and scope of the government but her job is extremely interesting. She has spent three years in Afghanistan working on gigantic programs with huge visibility and worked closely with high level military. Some of the programs themselves are fascinating. Waste of money but still fascinating.

    I think her only real complaint is that out of every 100 people 10 are doing all the work and as such management tends to rely heavily on the productive workers leading to early burnout.

    As a supervisor she showed me the amount of documentation she had to have in order to actually get someone fired. It was a two foot stack of emails and notes she taken on the person over a year period. Utterly nuts. Most supervisors lack the will and attention to detail to go through with real disciplinary actions.

  25. That’s their problem with entitlement and being told they are special. In fact the only growth sector of the economy is government employment. So in a few years they’ll be kicking themselves.

  26. Valerie `s posting is shocking… on saturday I bought a great new Jaguar XJ after I been earnin $6211 this last four weeks an would you believe 10k this past month . it’s by-far my favourite-work I’ve ever done . I started this eight months/ago and immediately startad bringin home over $71… per hour .
    am impresses but join this site and earn money easily.

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