Quick, what’s the largest employment sector in the United States? Retail? Guess again. Health care? Nuh-uh. Business services? Nope.!@!

No, it’s government, which employs approximately 22,387,000 people, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. To put this another way, more individuals work for government institutions in this country than live in any single U.S. state, with the exceptions of California and Texas.

Now, the first-place ranking of government in this category will likely cause grave concern among people of certain political persuasions. And regardless of one’s ideological leanings, the fact that the public sector is the biggest employer in an ostensibly capitalist nation is undeniably perplexing. But I’d like to put that discussion aside for a moment and take a look at another aspect of employment where the government is near the top: worker retirements.

Many of the people reading this already know the government is one of the most challenged sectors when it comes to talent pipelines. Some very big and important institutions in this area could lose as much as half of their workforce in about half a decade, and several of them don’t have enough individuals coming in to replace them.

I’ve talked in previous blogs about challenges in the new War for Talent (most recently, here: https://www.clomedia.com/clo-blog/2008/March/2138/index.php). So here’s a question I’m throwing out to the readers of CLO: How can the biggest employer in the U.S. vie for talent:

1. In a free-agent job market, where long-term employment is no longer viewed as an asset?
2. With limited resources to put towards competitive compensation packages?
3. Without the ability to recruit overseas talent?

Please feel free to respond in the comments section below. I anxiously await your thoughts.


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