Jobs in government do have an advantage here. While job security is basically a thing of the past in the private sector, the public sector still offers one of the more secure job environments. After all, a government agency is not going to be bought out by another company and they are not going to be outsourcing jobs overseas.
On the other hand, government budgets can go up and down, with corresponding staff reductions, depending on the economy and tax collections. But in recent years, the public sector has offered greater job security than the private sector.
If staff reductions do have to take place, seniority plays a big role in the public sector. Generally speaking, if staff layoffs become necessary, people who have the same job title will be laid off based on the newest staff first. The downside of this, of course, is that sometimes the better person gets laid off because they were the newest.
As to working environment, you’ll find large public sector organizations to be pretty much like their private sector counterparts. Overall, people work hard and want to do the right thing.
One thing I have noticed in the public sector is that people are frequently working there because they truly believe in what they are doing. Otherwise, they would be out in the private sector chasing money. The old stereotype of the lazy government worker doing the minimum to get by is simply not true in my experience. You will be pleasantly surprised at the quality and high moral character of many employees in the public sector.
Overall, after having worked in both the private and public sector, I will tell you they both have their strong points.
If you’re young and single and want to make as much money as you can as fast as you can, stay in the private sector.
If you are more mature in your career – or if job stability is important to you – you may find the public sector attractive.