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Old 07-05-2019, 05:59 PM
 
Location: Western Washington
8,929 posts, read 8,390,690 times
Reputation: 15495

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It should be recognized that a pay differential of $35k to $50k most likely means we aren't comparing equal jobs. While government pay often lags that of the private sector, it does not typically do so by 30%. 10-15% is a more typical number, until you get to the highest levels, in which case private sector outstrips government by an order of magnitude or more.

My guess is that OP is currently in an entry level staff job, while a $50k private salary probably means senior staff or lower management.

A more realistic comp might be public at $35k, private at $40k.

In addition to pension vs 401k, other benefits are typically better in public sector jobs. Public sector tends to have better leave policies and superior health care.
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Old 07-05-2019, 06:08 PM
 
Location: Western Washington
8,929 posts, read 8,390,690 times
Reputation: 15495
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hemlock140 View Post
And thereís are opportunities. In my first public agency career 5 promotions in 16 years, current one 2 promotions in 10 years, and making over twice as much as when I started. With annual raises averaging 3-5% you need to keep moving up to jump ahead financially.
I would agree with Hemlock on this one. I have hopped in and out of public and private sectors, including owning several businesses through the years. Most were side gigs, but I did own one business for 7 years that was profitable and my sole source of income during that time.

My first public sector job was two years, I received 2 colas and one promotion.

Second public sector was 2 years. I received 3 colas (timing was just right), and was offered a promotion as I was leaving for another position.

Third public sector was 4 years. 4 colas, 2 minor bonuses, and a raise that took me from near bottom of pay scale to near top of the pay scale.

Current public sector has been 7 years. 6 colas, 1 promotion, one stipend for additional duties in lieu of promotion.

People can have a nice career progression in government jobs, the myth that people stay static is simply wrong. Sure, some people land in entry level jobs and never leave, but that is their choice, and those people probably would have chosen to do the same thing in a private company.
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Old 07-05-2019, 06:16 PM
 
72 posts, read 14,403 times
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I have worked in both the private sector (over 30 years) and in a government job (8 years), and the "which is better" question is a very individual, subjective one. You really have to examine all the factors of each, and decide where your own personal sweet spot is.


In my experience, a private-sector job has the following positives:
  • Generally higher wages
  • Often better advancement opportunities that are not subject to civil-service regulations, i.e. the boss can just decide to promote someone instead of going through a 3-month process to post and hire a position.
  • Some industries offer perks and benefits that are not available in government jobs (e.g. tuition assistance, onsite fitness center, game room, bonuses, gifts and the like)
  • In some industries, there is greater flexibility for scheduling and working from home
  • In some industries, you are more likely to have travel opportunities (of course, for some of us, more travel could be a negative, too)
  • Private-sector employees frequently have cutting-edge technology

Private-sector jobs have downsides as well. These include:
  • No civil service protections, making it easier to fire people
  • Business downturns necessitating reductions in force
  • Pensions are very rare in the private sector in this day and age
  • Insurance (health, life, disability, income continuation) is generally more expensive and less comprehensive than is available with a government job
  • In some industries and with some employers, there is an expectation that employees will be available by computer or cell phone 24/7, and some industries and employers expect staff to be willing to work much more than 40 hours per week, including on holidays

Government jobs often have the following advantages:
  • Job security
  • Civil service protections (except for appointed positions)
  • Pensions
  • Generally good to excellent insurance options
  • Often generous PTO allowances
  • In some cases, with some government agencies, there can be a measure of satisfaction in doing work that helps one's fellow citizens.

Negatives to government jobs:
  • Pay raises are decided legislatively and can be few and far between
  • Legislative decisions can eliminate an entire agency and all jobs within it
  • Advancement opportunities are not as common, and they are not just handed out to whoever the boss wants to promote; even if you already work for an agency and are essentially doing the job that has been posted, you still have to go through the full application/interview process to be considered
  • Some people (including some legislators) have a persistent belief that all government workers are lazy and incompetent, which can be demoralizing
  • Most government entities use technology (hardware and software both) that is at least years and often decades out of date because they can't afford to upgrade

And there are certain things in common across both private and public sector jobs. Bureaucracy is endemic. Mediocrity that doesn't rock the boat is often rewarded far more than brilliance that makes people uncomfortable. Idiots get hired, and keep their jobs because it's too much trouble/effort to get rid of them. Miscommunication creates kerfuffles. There's no escaping certain realities regardless of where you work.

So to the OP, in your shoes, I'd assign a numeric importance factor - YOUR importance factor, not anyone else's - to each of the pros and cons for private and public sector work. Say, on a scale of 1 to 10, how important is good health insurance to you? On a scale of 1 to 10, how important are regular raises to you? Do that for each item in the list, and then total the numbers. The result may give you some insight into where to pursue your further career.
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Old 07-05-2019, 06:51 PM
 
Location: Mount Pleasant, SC
1,935 posts, read 2,466,806 times
Reputation: 1666
I haven't read all 33 responses...
Pensions are great when you hit 60+ ... but there's "a price to be paid" for most of your life ... if you even make it to 60.

Do what you like & hopefully, you'll find what you love. Be smart about savings & retirement savings, separately.

Government ... or union ... or private. It doesn't matter.
Really, find what you want to do for the 40ish years you'll be doing it.
"Bulls make money, bears make money, pigs get slaughtered" as Jim Cramer says. Save, invest, or hate your pension job. Just don't be lazy providing for yourself & those you love.
Don't waste 40 years unhappy or unfulfilled for a pension. But if it comes with your true avocation, yes, go for it!
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Old 07-05-2019, 06:52 PM
 
Location: southern california
55,634 posts, read 74,577,828 times
Reputation: 48121
That 50k job wonít be that great when they pink slip you 3 months later
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Old 07-05-2019, 07:08 PM
 
3,753 posts, read 2,119,516 times
Reputation: 10240
Quote:
Originally Posted by Huckleberry3911948 View Post
That 50k job won’t be that great when they pink slip you 3 months later
Exactly.. What good is a higher paying job when you probably will be lucky to even keep it In the private sector you can be let go at the drop of a hat for anything. Even doing a great Job. Or just because the higher ups may be in a bad mood and decide to cut positions for no good reason at all

Last edited by DorianRo; 07-05-2019 at 07:17 PM..
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Old 07-05-2019, 07:46 PM
 
6,835 posts, read 3,708,603 times
Reputation: 18068
Quote:
Originally Posted by fishbrains View Post
It should be recognized that a pay differential of $35k to $50k most likely means we aren't comparing equal jobs. While government pay often lags that of the private sector, it does not typically do so by 30%. 10-15% is a more typical number, until you get to the highest levels, in which case private sector outstrips government by an order of magnitude or more.

My guess is that OP is currently in an entry level staff job, while a $50k private salary probably means senior staff or lower management.

A more realistic comp might be public at $35k, private at $40k.

In addition to pension vs 401k, other benefits are typically better in public sector jobs. Public sector tends to have better leave policies and superior health care.
25%-30% seems to be about the current difference between public sector and private sector for professional science and engineering jobs. I'm fighting that hiring battle right now and can't get ahead of the hiring curve. We lose them faster than we can hire to higher paying jobs. Entry level engineer offers about $47K vs $65-$70. They also offer better benefits and matching. For many young people starting out today, more cash in the pocket carries more weight than a pension 40 years from now that they may never see. When you don't plan to work in the same job for the next 40 years, a pension loses its appeal vs 401K.
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Old 07-05-2019, 08:03 PM
 
Location: Tempe, AZ
4,552 posts, read 3,633,260 times
Reputation: 3625
Quote:
Originally Posted by tnff View Post
25%-30% seems to be about the current difference between public sector and private sector for professional science and engineering jobs. I'm fighting that hiring battle right now and can't get ahead of the hiring curve. We lose them faster than we can hire to higher paying jobs. Entry level engineer offers about $47K vs $65-$70. They also offer better benefits and matching. For many young people starting out today, more cash in the pocket carries more weight than a pension 40 years from now that they may never see. When you don't plan to work in the same job for the next 40 years, a pension loses its appeal vs 401K.
Yeah itís way more of a difference than 5k. I make 48k, Iím seeing other positions I qualify for above 60k. Health inspectors are pretty specific to the public sector, but back when I was in food safety, you can be a food safety manager for a chain and make over 70k. Water quality is also heavily public sector focused, but Iím sure utilities are a good place to go. Itís hard to say because private sector never posts their wages, unlike the public sector.
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Old 07-05-2019, 09:05 PM
 
10,058 posts, read 4,648,803 times
Reputation: 15275
Quote:
Originally Posted by DorianRo View Post
Exactly.. What good is a higher paying job when you probably will be lucky to even keep it In the private sector you can be let go at the drop of a hat for anything. Even doing a great Job. Or just because the higher ups may be in a bad mood and decide to cut positions for no good reason at all
You keep talking job tenure/stability... but it isn't like you can sit on a job for 30 years in the public sector either

from the BLS website
Quote:
In January 2018, wage and salary workers in the public sector had a median tenure of 6.8 years,
considerably higher than the median of 3.8 years for private-sector employees.
https://www.bls.gov/news.release/tenure.nr0.htm
well, yes the public sector has nearly twice the job tenure, but it still isn't very long if you are looking at a 30 year career for a pension :S. Hell, with the federal system, if you don't make it 5 years, you don't even vest in it. For other pensions, some of them have even longer vesting periods of up to 10 years.

So, how's that pension working out for people that need 10 years to vest but the average people only stick around 6.8 years? They had to give up the pension AND take a lower pay for those 6.8 years.

Maybe 7 years are good enough for some people to call it "job stability"
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Old 07-06-2019, 12:08 AM
 
25,964 posts, read 32,962,923 times
Reputation: 32145
Quote:
Originally Posted by MLSFan View Post
You keep talking job tenure/stability... but it isn't like you can sit on a job for 30 years in the public sector either

from the BLS website


well, yes the public sector has nearly twice the job tenure, but it still isn't very long if you are looking at a 30 year career for a pension :S. Hell, with the federal system, if you don't make it 5 years, you don't even vest in it. For other pensions, some of them have even longer vesting periods of up to 10 years.

So, how's that pension working out for people that need 10 years to vest but the average people only stick around 6.8 years? They had to give up the pension AND take a lower pay for those 6.8 years.

Maybe 7 years are good enough for some people to call it "job stability"
I've been at my job 17.5 years. I will retire at 20. I don't know a soul I work with that is NOT planning to retire there.
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