Friday, February 01, 2019

The Shutdown Is Driving the Government's Data Wonks to the Private Sector

By Jeanna Smialek
From Bloomberg

Brain drain is a concern across federal departments as shutdowns become a matter of political course in Washington.

If the statistical agencies begin to bleed seasoned workers with deep knowledge of complicated surveys and methodologies, it could be a particular loss for American businesses and financial-market participants who rely on their data and analysis.

“They are basically providing the statistical infrastructure for the decisions made by the entire private sector of the economy, as well as government,” Lawrence Katz, a Harvard University professor and former Labor Department chief economist, said of the data agencies. He noted that government jobs are secure and fulfilling but may not pay highly-educated people as much as companies or universities would.

Opportunities outside of the public sphere are especially plentiful now, with unemployment at 3.9 percent, near the lowest since the 1960s. For people with bachelor’s degrees and higher, the jobless rate is 2.1 percent.

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