February 4, 2014
Small business gets significant lip service on both side of the aisle as a top economic policy priority, but the federal agency charged with supporting Main Street hasn’t received the resources of other agencies when it comes to employee compensation and other workforce support. According to a new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, SBA employees saw a decrease in pay and benefits from 2004 to 2012, while their colleagues at almost every other agency saw pay and benefits increased. State Department employees saw their pay and benefits jump 4.5 per year on average, ahead of the federal average increase of 2.1 percent per year. Only SBA saw a decrease – of about .5% per year — among agencies listed individually in the study.
That may explain why the SBA recorded the highest average annual retirement rate in the entire federal government from 2004-2012. SBA recorded a 5.4% annual rate of retirement. The Departments of Justice, Commerce and Homeland Security have retirement rates of under 3%.
SBA stood out dramatically in another category. Approximately 40% — almost half – of SBA employees on board as of September 2012 will be eligible to retire by September 2017 – beating by 33% the federal agency average.
What does this mean? The GAO says “the high projected retirement eligibility rates across government underscore the importance of effective succession planning, including determining the critical skills and competencies that will be needed to achieve current and future programmatic results; developing strategies that are tailored to address gaps in the number, deployment, and alignment of all critical skills and competencies; and monitoring and evaluating progress toward human capital goals.”
Apple, Intel, Under Armor, Chobani Yogurt – so many great American companies got their start with the help of SBA-backed funding.
If the SBA is to support the resurgence of Main Street to create the jobs America needs and fuel the entrepreneurs of the future, the agency should receive more focus and support from our government. Critical capital access programs, research and small business advocacy need more resources, not fewer, if we are to regain our economic momentum and fulfill our nation’s great potential.