Thursday, February 21, 2008

U.S. Government Study Shows Younger Workers Less Inclined to Federal Employment

The U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) has issued the results of a study of Federal entry-level new hires in professional and administrative occupations to identify how the U.S. Government can improve its entry-level hiring. According to the report--"Attracting the Next Generation: A Look at Federal Entry-Level New Hires, the Federal Government offers what many new hires—-regardless of age or generation—-want in an employer, but noted that numerous studies indicate that the Government is not an attractive employer to younger, less experienced applicants.

One surprising finding was that despite the popular perception that an entry-level new hire is a young, professionally inexperienced, recent college graduate, entry-level new hires are much more diverse in terms of age, experience and background. Specifically, data showed that the average age of the new hire in fiscal year 2005 was 33 years old, with new hires ranging in age from 21 to 84 years old. "Even more surprising, almost 20 percent reported more than 20 years of work experience before joining the Government, and 17 percent had 11 to 20 years."

In looking specifically to the attraction of Federal employment to older workers, the study reports:
While some may be starting new careers, it is also apparent that many new hires are wrapping up their current careers and hoping to supplement their private retirement with Federal benefits. The Government’s retirement package includes a fixed pension based on earnings and a tax-deferred retirement savings and investment plan (Thrift Savings Plan or TSP) similar to 401(k) plans offered in the private sector.

In addition, retirees with 5 years of continuous enrollment immediately before their retirement continue to receive the full subsidy in the Employees Health Benefits Program. These benefits are attractive to those nearing retirement or who have already retired from another sector and want to supplement their earnings, as demonstrated through some participants’ narrative comments:
Source: Merit Systems Protection Board Press Release (February 8, 2008)

Additional Source: Government Executive "Generation Gap" (February 21, 2008)

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