Brain Drain Exodus -Tsunami, Pick One

Eight to nine years ago, experts (real and imagined) looked at the numbers and declared, not for the first time, that Uncle Sam was facing a serious brain drain. That later morphed into an “exodus” of retirements that would cripple everything from air traffic control to law enforcement and animal husbandry in government.

Later still, the brain drain exodus morphed into a retirement “tsunami”. That was right about the time of the tidal wave/tsunami that hit southeast Asia, specifically a major resort in Thailand favored by well-heeled western tourists.

So how’s the brain drain exodus/tsunami going?

Some people say it’s a problem. Others say their federal offices more closely resemble senior centers. An Office of Personnel Management worker says that on his floor the sighting of a young person – 20-something to 30-something – is greeted like reports of an Ivory-Billed Woodpecker. Rare indeed. An IRS worker said that at 52 he’s “one of the younger people around.”

If you Google or Yahoo “retirement tsunami” you get lots of stuff about the government losing people, or about to lose people. By some reports, half the staff in many offices, occupations or agencies is eligible to retire over the next 10 years. Although that’s probably been true before the question of what constitutes a tsunami. And will it happen.

When you do a computer search of “brain drain retirement exodus” or “retirement tsunami”, you get dire warnings that go back 70 years in some cases. And you get frantic reports from the Canadian government about losing its marbles. Or about the State of Utah which lost 300 people to retirement a couple of Decembers ago. Or the LAPD losing its best and brightest due to the “looming tsunami.”

Scariest of all was the breathless report from the Bay area about the “retirement exodus” at Chabot College. Seems the president was contemplating retirement.

Oh, the humanity!!!

Bear in mind that Washington is a city where lots of people make a very good living predicting, then preventing, disasters. Some work for the government. Some are consultants or think tankers who get paid by the government.

In the case of the retirement brain drain exodus/tsunami thingy, more than just the numbers need to be considered. In war-gaming (which is hardly a game) they call it capability vs. intention. Or some such variation. That is, what can a potential enemy do versus what will he do. For instance mainland China probably has the capability to take Taiwan either by force or threat. But will it do it? (P.S. If you have the real answer, please call R. Gates at the Pentagon. Fast!)

National and world economic factors may play a major role in any retirement tsunami from government where employment is steady.

Last year, according to the BBC, the world’s stock markets “lost” something like $7.3 trillion (with a T) in value. Your TSP account is part of that.

General Motors last year lost a record $39 billion. While much of that is a bookkeeping loss of tax credits, it still lost money big-time. In desperately trying to cut costs, it is offering buyouts($45k to $140k) to skilled, union workers. The younger employees would get the biggest buyouts.

So are you going to be swamped by the tsunami? Left alone to do other people’s work? Or are you going to retire as planned when planned. Click below to let me know! (Poetically pleading.)

Nearly Useless Factoid

The next full moon (the evening of the 20th), holds a real treat. It will be the setting for the last lunar eclipse for the next three years (at least from here.) The eclipse will be visible for the Eastern two-thirds of the United States and all of South America. February 1865 is the only month recorded in history not to have a full moon.

To reach me: mcausey@federalnewsradio.com

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