Justin Bieber and the retirement tsunami

Since the late 1990s real and self-anointed experts  have been predicting a tidal wave of retirements from the federal service. A “brain drain” so tough that the last person out won’t know how to turn out the lights.

(As a point of reference we can all identify with, consider that pop star Justin Bieber was only 5 years old when the first tsunami alert was sounded. Let that sink in!)

If you Google (or Bing) the words...

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Since the late 1990s real and self-anointed experts  have been predicting a tidal wave of retirements from the federal service. A “brain drain” so tough that the last person out won’t know how to turn out the lights.

(As a point of reference we can all identify with, consider that pop star Justin Bieber was only 5 years old when the first tsunami alert was sounded. Let that sink in!)

If you Google (or Bing) the words “retirement tsunami” on your computer you get a ton of information, articles and even videos relating to the pending mass exodus from government. Some deal with pension problems or even the real tsunami that hit Japan. Many of the references, however, are about the “imminent” and grave threat posed by the departure of skilled, angry (or both) baby boomers.

Some of the articles about the disastrous tsunami said it had started as early as 2004. Some are based on estimates of the number of boomers approaching retirement age. Others are drawn from official numbers from the Office of Personnel Management.

Obviously the real numbers tell the story. They show both the number of applications projected each month, alongside the actual number of retirement applications OPM receives. With few exceptions, OPM has generally overestimated the number of retirements it actually receives. Here are the numbers for the period October 20014 to September of this year.

So while the tsunami has yet to strip government offices of its experienced, best and brightest, some day it will come — maybe in smaller waves, maybe in a short period of time which could cause problems in defense, homeland security, safety and other government functions.

Many politicians, including some current presidential contenders, talk about a smaller, leaner government. At least one has proposed a 3 to 4 year federal hiring freeze if elected.

Spanking Washington is on the to do list of many politicians and taxpayers. But even the most anti-bureaucrat pol or citizen is likely to notice if any cuts involve a major federal operation — a VA hospital, computer center, federal prison, or an Army, Navy or Air Force installation — on his or her turf.

If the government is downsized through attrition, hiring freeze or tsunami, lots of places would be hurt. Ogden, Utah and Huntsville, Alabama are major federal centers. Atlanta has the CDC, IRS and NRC, to name a few. San Antonio is a military town with lots of civilian feds. Tampa, Denver and Columbus have large federal and military populations. The entire state of Oklahoma is chock full of federal workers from the Postal Service and FAA to the Defense Department. The American Federation of Government Employees is one of the largest, if not the biggest union, in the state.  Raleigh-Durham: hello! Fed town.

So if you are hoping the tsunami is on its way — whether you are a fed, a butcher, baker or candlestick maker, you know where the high ground is before it hits.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Meredith Somers

Taumatawhakatangi­hangakoauauotamatea­turipukakapikimaunga­horonukupokaiwhen­uakitanatahu is the Maori name of a hill in New Zealand. Translated the name means “the summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the slider, climber of mountains, the land-swallower who traveled about, played his nose flute to his loved one.”

Source: Wikipedia

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