Until fairly recently, conventional wisdom held that big government was “cool,” and that young people favored public entitlements and welfare programs.
Not so, according to the Reason Foundation’s J.D. Tuccille. Look at the American workforce who’s under the age of 30 and where they’re choosing to work—or not. Fully 9 percent of the under-30 demographic left the government sector workforce in 2013, which is especially significant given their overall workforce share:
The reasons for the exodus include a bureaucratic and byzantine hiring process that moves at glacial speeds, government shutdowns and limited opportunities once hired, and the bureaucratic internal culture.
"I had fantastic mentors and teachers in government. But there was a big question mark about what opportunities would be available for me," says Meghan Gleason, 29, who left the National Institutes of Health to take a consulting job at KPMG.
This squares with the results of a recent Office of Personnel Management survey, which found millennials rather less happy with their government gigs than federal employees from older generations, though they tend to like their immediate supervisors.
New-found disillusionment with the reality of government extends beyond those who have actually worked in the belly of the beast. In 2009, polling by the Pew Research Center found that only 42 percent of millennials thought government was "usually inefficient and wasteful." Six in 10 Americans over 30 held that low view of the beast. But whenReason-Rupe repeated the question earlier this year, 66 percent of millennials thought government was "usually inefficient and wasteful."
Reality is revelatory. And that "most pro-government generation" is growing, as we all do, wiser with hard-earned experience.