Retirements are spiking: What do you think?


With federal retirements continuing to spike, it’s clear that the long-predicted retirement wave is here. Retirements in 2011 were up 24 percent over 2010 levels. And so far this year, retirements are up another 8 percent.

Federal managers, we’d like to hear about what the retirement wave means for you. Are you seeing one valued employee after another walk out the door? If so, how are you dealing with the loss of their years of experience? Are you getting ready for more retirements in the near future? If so, how are you preparing for that?

E-mail me at to talk. If you’d like to talk anonymously, that’s fine.


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  1. philip kupferman on

    Generally I think it is good that some of the “old pros” are leaving. Many of them are set in their ways and resist any change. Some are just not physically able to carry their share. We should and do value their experience but it’s past time for some new blood.

  2. I think that the retirement spike is a combination of federal employees’ widespread frustration with the way they are being treated by Congress and the increasing opportunities in the private sector as the economy heals. I have seen this happen twice before: Even as the private sector hires while seeing signs of an improving economy, the Government acts like we are in the depths of a depression. Workers see more opportunity elsewhere and quit or retire, leaving agencies short on resources, which leads the workers who stayed to be dissatisfied and to leave. Finally, out of desperation, the Government hires whoever will agree to work for them.

  3. I see the very first comment already took us down into the sewer of ageism. I guess that is to be expected, those with little experience never seem to understand the value of those of us who have it.

    I agree with the second comment in that the ongoing denigration of the federal worker by the politicians and the media is going to drive many of us to leave as soon as we are eligible for retirement. Unfortunately for the taxpayer this will in many cases be highly talented and experienced workers leaving for greener pastures, while younger talented prospects will avoid federal service having seen how horribly the current employees have been treated. The end result will be a lot of good money paid for inexperienced and marginally talented new hires.

  4. I wasn’t exactly inexperienced when I was hired, and I like to think at least reasonably talented. The thing is that under normal circumstances there is a steady trickle of experience walking out the door and fresh faces walking in. At this slow turnover rate there would still be an ample supply of experienced workers with a lot of institutional knowledge to mentor the new employees until they were up to speed.

    If there is a sudden mass exodus there will be fewer experienced people available to mentor an increased number of less experienced workers. Add to that the fact that the politicians (at least those on one side of the aisle) have been trying to blame Federal employee compensation for all the financial problems that were actually caused by the politicians themselves.

    If I was fresh out of college and looking at prospective employers, I would steer clear of an employer who has a well deserved reputation for demagogic slander of their employees. I would also see the current attempts to reduce pension benefits while increasing pension contributions to pay for all sorts of things other than the pensions, as a reason to believe that this particular employer would have no qualms about reneging on any promises or commitments they made to me.

    Seeing that the prospective employer has such a reputation, any job candidate with other options would likely pursue those other options. This leaves the employer with this horrid reputation nothing but the dregs that nobody else is willing to hire.

  5. (Replying to Steve): We’ve already seen a fair number of highly educated, younger engineers leave government service as well as defense-related industry for jobs elsewhere. For instance, the automotive industry right now is on an engineering talent hiring binge and they are offering compensation substantially better than the government and even better than defense-industy related businesses.

    Thus, your point about attracting the good talent is well considered and our putative leaders would be wise to take note.

  6. Phyllis Slayton on

    Those who are able to retire have typically worked hard long hours for decades to earn it. Younger generations don’t seem to ‘get it’ when it comes to a consistent work ethic, long-term planning, loyalty, or the ability to adjust an attitude and adapt. The trend now is to -bash and blame- those who have maintained a consistent work ethic to provide for their families, sent their kids off to college (and paid for it), have been a solid and consistent major tax-paying segment of our country, and are self-sufficient financially at retirement. (oh, and did I mention that a high percentage of Fed workers are retired military?)

    Along with that, add the immeasurable value of corporate knowledge, sage wisdom, vast experiences and training, history, and adaptability over time and change.

    I guess all that makes us an easy target to shoot at.

    Snicker and wave goodbye as you watch us gray-haired Feds leave the building in mass — BUT, you will miss us when we’re gone – for many reasons.

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