Maybe non-essential government employees should learn to code.

According to the WSJ, the partial government shutdown prompted government employees to test the job market

Evidence: job site reports that page views coming from government employees working for unfunded agencies surged during the partial government.


ZipRecruiter and LinkedIn report similar surges in government employee activity.

But, the WSJ concludes that despite the booming economy “there’s no evidence that the job-searching led to an actual exodus from the federal government’s payrolls.”

Why is that?


One hypothesis is that, when the rubber hit the road, the furloughed employees didn’t want to give up cushy (i.e. non-essential) jobs that come with above market salaries and generous benefits, including gold standard health insurance, multi-tiered retirement (social security, 401K and a pension), and near-guaranteed life-time employment (via civil service and union contracts).

Some may have even realized that, worst case, the shutdown gave them an extra month’s vacation — albeit with with deferred pay.


Another hypothesis: even in a booming economy, there isn’t much of a market for non-essential employees.  That’s a province institutionalized in the government.

More specifically, the job-seekers may have discovered that their skills  are out-of-sync with the private sector’s needs.

Maybe they should learn to code….



Learning to code was the frequent insensitive advice offered to middle America workers who lost their jobs to to government regulation (think: coal miners) or globalization (think: auto industry).

As if a middle age coal miner was going to develop web sites … or auto assembly line worker was just a course or two away from a career in healthcare.

Maybe non-essential government employees are better suited for those jobs … or, maybe not.


Follow on Twitter @KenHoma

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