Nearly half of federal government employees (44%) are thriving financially, compared with just a third (34%) of all other U.S. workers. “Thriving” is defined as well-being that is strong and consistent; “struggling” is moderate or inconsistent well-being; “suffering” is low and inconsistent, according to Gallup’s classification.
Financial well-being is not a direct report of salary, benefits or overall compensation, but instead is a composite of responses to the perceptions of standards of living, affordability of basic necessities and financial woes. These factors are all impacted by an individual’s region of country, family size, cost of living, debt and a range of other factors.
Those who experience higher levels of financial well-being feel they can spend time and energy addressing other facets of well-being in their daily lives, including their social, community and physical well-being.
Working for the federal government is associated with higher financial well-being when compared with other U.S. workers. Federal workers reporting higher levels of financial well-being could mean good news for the U.S. government because financial well-being is a crucial aspect of overall well-being, which has a significant effect on health care costs and engagement on the job.
Many government agencies streamline benefits enrollment for employees to include easy opt-out options or facilitate quick setup and automation to minimize financial stress. Beyond employer benefits, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) publishes salary information, which may not be as frequently available in the general workforce, making career paths fairly clear when it comes to an individual’s position within an organization.
To explain the disparity in financial well-being between federal workers and all other workers, consider that more than half the working population works for small businesses. If those small businesses are not thriving, as is often the case, those employees may also report lower levels of financial well-being.
Among the findings:
- A quarter of federal employees whose monthly household income is less than $2,000 are thriving in financial well-being, compared with 15% of workers outside the federal government.
- More than a third (35%) of federal employees with a high school degree or less are thriving, compared with about a quarter (27%) of those working outside of the U.S. government. These differences continue at each higher level of education, including an eight-point difference in thriving among those with a postgraduate education.