The federal government, which hires about 30,000 people a month, was once seen as among the most stable and reliable of employers. But since the shutdown began over a month ago – and as 800,000 federal workers miss a second paycheck this week – that notion is on shaky ground.
With President Trump announcing Friday an agreement to reopen the government for three weeks, Glassdoor research shows that more employees who have self-identified on the jobs website as federal workers are using the platform to look for jobs in the private sector.
“Mechanical engineers, aerospace engineers – these are very advanced technical skills that are pretty uncommon in the workplace,” says Glassdoor economist Daniel Zhao. “And if the government has to compete with private employers for these highly skilled workers, it might end up losing out if it has to compete with the negative impact on its brand from the government shutdown.”
Since government employees missed their first paycheck on Jan. 11, the number of federal workers looking for jobs on Glassdoor has jumped 10%.
“There’s a wide variety of workers being affected, from administrative assistants to aerospace engineers. The labor market is very tight right now, so chances are for every government worker across the spectrum looking for a new job, there’s probably an equivalent private sector job available,” says Zhao.
He says TSA agents, security screeners at airports, are among the biggest group of federal workers looking for a new job.
“The TSA, for example, is seeing a 64% increase in affected federal workers looking for new jobs, which is well above the average 10% increase. The TSA has a large, on-the-ground workforce of agents. These agents are making around $40,000 a year. In an expensive city, it’s not unusual that two missed paychecks would be a big hit to their household finances and that they would be looking for a new job to help bridge that temporary loss of income,” he says. (Glassdoor data is based on information shared by users, including resumes uploaded to the site.)
Glassdoor is seeing more federal workers with more advanced technical skills on the higher end of the income spectrum, like mechanical engineers and aerospace engineers, job searching.
They’re “using this as an impetus to look for jobs in what is a very competitive labor market,” says Zhao.
Glassdoor data also reveals that the shutdown is driving away job seekers interested in government work.
The risk, Zhao says, is a longer-term impact from the shutdown on the government’s ability to hire: “If that extends past the formal end of the shutdown, that could negatively impact the federal workforce for a longer period of time.”
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