Goodbye, campaign jobs

By Jessica Dickler, staff writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Along with a Republican victory, the conclusion of the midterm elections will bring about a hiring bust for political jobs.

Political campaigns, which have been working in overdrive since the summer, typically hire a slew of consultants, managers, pollsters and fundraisers, providing jobs -- many of which go to recent college graduates, students or the previously unemployed.

But what happens to those positions after Election Day? Many simply disappear.

As of August, 200,800 people were employed with campaigns or similar organizations, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, up from 181,600 in the year earlier.

Once the polls are closed and votes are counted, "it's difficult to quantify how many jobs will be lost," said Costas Panagopoulos, director of the graduate program in elections and campaign management at Fordham University, and editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine.

Those who worked for candidates that won may be offered staff positions, but not all of them, Panagopoulos said. Others, suddenly out of work, will be left waiting to land jobs with the next wave of politicians on the campaign trail once the election cycle gains steam again.

Still, the lost campaign jobs may not hurt as much as other job cuts, said economist John Canally of LPL Financial, since many are held by students who will return to school, consultants who move on to another project or volunteers who are unpaid and not counted in the workforce.

Then there are those for whom "that's been their job since the summer and they are let go," he added. "In terms of the overall effect, it is something to watch for."

Cynthia Meyer, 21, is one of the ones spared from unemployment. Meyer is a college senior at George Washington University. She worked full time as the campaign manager for Dave Hedgepeth, who made an unsuccessful bid for a seat on Washington D.C.'s City Council, since June. Now, she says, "I'll go back to school."

Meanwhile, Alie Walsh, 24, will return to her regular consulting work with CGK Partners, despite her client's Election Day victory. She was working as a finance consultant on David Carlucci's campaign for state senator in New York's 38th district.

"On Wednesday I will hopefully sleep late and go back to my regular clients that aren't on the campaign schedule," she said.

But Mather Martin, 28, could join the ranks of the unemployed as of Wednesday. Martin spent the last two years working on the campaign for Kamala Harris, candidate for Attorney General in California. That race has yet to be called.

"Win or lose, it is all very up in the air," Martin said. If Harris becomes the next Attorney General, "I will see what options lie in Kamala's administration." Otherwise, Martin says she may join her some of her former coworkers jumping on the next big campaign in another state.

"The uncertainly is scary," she said. But she's not worried at the moment, "only because it's been two years and I'm ready for a break." To top of page

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