Elections, Government Workers, and the Brain Drain Risk

 By: Dr. Lynn Reaser

Election returns from around the nation on Tuesday showed the public voting for more fiscal restraint on the part of government and a reining in of benefits paid to government workers.  Some are beginning to ask the question:   “Will the election results related to pensions in San Diego and elsewhere lead to a brain drain in government workers as benefits are cut to balance budgets?”

 The answer would appear to be no for several reasons:

1)    Most public entities, including the City of San Diego, are only changing benefit plans for future employees. 

2)    The change in pension programs from guaranteed benefits to (401)k type plans just puts public agencies on the same standard embraced in the private sector. 

3)    With unemployment expected to remain high for some time, there will be many qualified people eager to work either in the private or public sector. 

4)    Most workers want their employer to be financially sound rather than under the burden of an underfunded pension plan that might ultimately force bankruptcy.

Finally, many people will continue to highly value the opportunities afforded by public service.  As is true for companies in the private sector, however, public employers will need to ensure that the jobs and services they provide are creating real value.



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