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NewsTalk

Welcome to the archives for NewsTalk, an IBJ blog published from November 2007 through December 2010.

An ode to utility workers

July 13, 2010

What is it about people who work for utilities? A new Indiana University study shows they stick with their jobs more than employees in any other industry—just the opposite of temp workers.

More than 65 percent of state utility workers have stayed in the sector, and nearly 60 percent with the same employer, for more than six years, according to a study by Indiana Business Research Center in the Kelley School of Business.

Manufacturing is next in line in job tenure, but the sector is stable partly because layoffs favor those with seniority.

Bill Beck, who worked in corporate relations for a Minnesota power utility before starting another career writing corporate histories—many of them about utilities—says utility workers are a different breed.

The industry is about as close as one can get to government and still be in the private sector, notes Beck, whose Lakeside Writers' Group now operates out of Indianapolis. That’s not to denigrate utility workers, as in “good enough for government work.” Beck’s point is that the industry is highly regulated, which means i’s must be dotted and t’s crossed by careful engineers and financial people.

Utility workers, from the professionals to the electric linemen who enjoy a kind of esprit dé corps for their keeping the juice flowing, make good money. They also draw contentment from knowing they do important work.

“It’s one of those jobs where you can go home at night and you can feel like I contributed something today,” Beck says. “I mean, how many people can say that anymore?

“It seems to attract people who are very stable. They just hang around a lot.”

What are your thoughts about utility employees?


 

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