I have lived long enough to see several changes in the socioeconomic structure of the United States of America. Long gone are the days where you could get a high-school diploma and go to work for a local manufacturing company and expect to work their till you were old enough to retire with a healthy pension for all of your years of service.
Regrettably with the advent of globalization and the push of many business owners to move their manufacturing, call centers, and other sources of high paying low to medium skill level jobs off shore it has left many Americans destitute, unemployed or under employed.
I experienced this shake up of the fundamental fabric of the American economic system first hand. I started working in manufacturing in my twenties only to see those jobs outsourced, I then migrated into Customer Service Call Center work which later was also moved off shore. I now work in the public sector, the volatility and insecurity of the private sector has left me wanting to see better opportunities and more reliable working environments. I have been a public employee of the state of Arkansas since December of 2004 and find that even though the salaries are much less than comparable positions in the private sector, the peace of mind and security of my position and the benefit of building a reliable and livable retirement outweighs the three to four year cycle that I experienced in the private sector. I have been a state employee much longer than I have worked at any of private sector positions. I appreciate a living wage, good health, dental and eye insurance coverage, good retirement planning programs and the good sick and vacation time opportunities that come with working in the public sector.
In the private sector I always felt threatened by management that my job was always one decision away from not being there. I never liked the instability and the long working hours of the private sector jobs I held. Invariably I filled in the gaps of the schedule that others did not want to work, and yet even with doing so, my work was unappreciated and was made redundant.
I have learned many new skills in the public sector working in various offices in state government and higher education. By comparison to the frenetic pace and insecurity that I experienced in the private sector and the constant reluctance to use any of my earned sick or annual leave time out of fear of being terminated by management in retaliation left me with a sour taste in my mouth for many of the private sector jobs I held in my twenties and early thirties.
I have come to appreciate many of the qualities of working in state government, the peace of mind that my position will be there barring drastic economic factors such as the dramatic recession we experienced in 2009 – 2010. I like knowing that not only am I earning a living wage, but I am also building my retirement working for the state as I do.
I’m not sure whether or not I would ever voluntarily return to working in the public sector or not, if things improved so that they were more reliable positions available with more respect for the individual worker perhaps. Time will tell.
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