Do local government careers offer better career opportunities than careers in the private sector?

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It's well known that in an apple-to-apple comparison of remuneration components, including both salary and perks, people with local government careers earn 12% less, on an average, than their private sector counterparts. However, at the same time, it is also well-known and proved that a greater number of people with advanced degrees and college degrees opt for local government careers or state government careers than for jobs in the private sector.

In fact, a recent report found that it is twice more likely for people working in local government careers to have an advanced degree than for people working in the private sector in equivalent positions.

So, what's there in local government careers that attracts a greater number of degree holders, people who have invested more on their education and people who are socially recognized as possessing acceptable levels of intelligence? The answer for many is that local government has opportunities to gather experience and establish professional networks at a higher rate than in comparable positions in the private sector. Also, there is a belief, a sort of colonial legacy, that job security is greater in government jobs.



That, by the way, is no more the truth. Further, when it comes to actual salaries local government opportunities pale in comparison to those offered in the private sector. In fact, a recent report by the Center for State & Local Government Excellence found that a general pattern of decline of wages in local government careers, compared to private sector, has been in existence for the past 20 years. But, people still cling to notions that local government opportunities are holistically better than those in the private sector. Are all these notions false? Or do local government careers actually offer the kind of opportunities that balance out those offered in the private sector?

Unless you are in a type of job like that of a researcher or a law enforcement officer, which will continue to exist as long as governments do, job security is definitely not greater in local government careers than in the private sector. In fact, government departments and agencies always play by the rules and radical changes of policies that benefit employees are hard to conceive. When Yahoo purchased broadcast.com in 1999, all 300 employees of broadcast.com became instant millionaires as part of the deal. Such a situation could never materialize in local government careers, for local government opportunities are bound by miles of red tape. So, back to the original question, what is there in local government careers that makes a greater number of degree holders decide that local government opportunities are more acceptable than those offered by the private sector?

The real answer is that in local government careers, no one gets sacked for performance-based reasons, while in the private sector losing jobs for poor performance is assured. While local government opportunities for promotion are based on performance, as much as it is in the private sector, you don't usually lose a job unless you create a situation where the system is forced to reject you. You continue as long as possible in local government careers by just doing enough to perform your assigned duties without having to innovate or prove yourself every day. And that by itself means, that a greater work-life balance is inherent in local government careers. And for those who have already spent greater time and money on preparing themselves for the job market, local government careers offer an easier lifestyle, and in most cases lesser tension, than in private sector workspaces.
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