As kids, few ever want to be a government bureaucrat when they grow up. President, maybe. Government worker, no.
The allure of the public sector to young people is as strong as desiring a spoonful of castor oil every day. Perhaps, that explains why the fewest number of young people under 30 are working in the public sector since 2005.
According to a nonprofit survey, just 6.6 percent of the federal workforce last year was comprised of Millennials (those born after 1980), down from 9.1 in 2010.
Currently, 336,000 young people born after 1980 are federal workers, representing 16 percent of the total federal workforce. Compared to the entire U.S. workforce 23.5 percent are under 30 years old.
Only 10 percent of the Class of 2015 say they want a government job. In addition, what recent grads say they want most in a job, after salary and benefits, is challenging work and a chance to advance quickly up the ranks – neither of which are hallmarks of the public sector.
Young people are running from government because it’s a fast track to career retardation.
The Washington Post reports:
“The greatest challenge for federal agencies is recruiting and retaining younger employees, those who represent the foundation of the workforce in the years ahead,” the partnership said in its study, “Improving the Employee Experience,” released this month with Deloitte Consulting.
The study found that once they land a job in government, many employees believe their career development is shifted to a slow track, with minimal recognition from their bosses, shrinking opportunities for training and few assignments that really harness their talent.
Millennials also don’t view government as a permanent career the way older generations did. But surveys find that they do like public service. Several obstacles are in the way of government keeping them for at least a chunk of their careers, among them the slow hiring process and a series of internship programs that, despite a revamp last year, haven’t been working as effectively as they could.
As aging baby boomer government workers continue to retire, perhaps there will be fewer people wanting their jobs, which is good news for those of us who want to cut government. Big government advocates have something to worry about from a generation that doesn’t see government as the way they want to solve society’s problems.
Millennials know that government is not the place to go to build a stimulating career. If the hiring process is any indication of what government work is like, it's s no wonder we are staying away. Young people apply by submitting their resume to the black hole of government databases. The long and arduous process for applying is described as frustrating and endless. (On top of that is the admission that all personal data in the government’s Office of Personnel Management has been hacked and everybody on it is at risk of identity theft.)
We see some of these tensions from a more in depth look at Millennials and the public sector last fall:
For those millennials who still want to land a government job, the hiring process can be an infuriating mystery. And the government’s Pathways internship program, designed to help launch young people on a federal career, is so beset by problems that only a trickle of workers has been hired.
Overall, about a quarter of the American labor force is younger than 30, more than three times the proportion that works for the federal government.
After Obama became president, the administration fueled a brief hiring boom of young employees, but their share of new government hires has been tumbling, according to figures compiled by the Office of Personnel Management. At the same time, employees under 30 accounted for nearly 9 percent of those who left the government in 2013, a significant figure given their tiny presence in the workforce.
At some agencies, millennials are trying to shake up the bureaucracy, challenging the pay-your-dues ethic and pressing for faster promotion opportunities and policies that strike a better balance between work and home. At the Department of Housing and Urban Development, for example, a group of workers with the agency for less than five years, calling itself Under 5, won backing for a program in which employees with innovative ideas are given four hours a week to work on them.
When President Barack Obama, the ultimate big government president, was elected, he planned to make working for government cool again. Fortunately, that plan failed. Holding parties and opening the revolving door at the White House to pop artists, comedians, sports figures, actors, and other celebrities, may have made Washington, D.C., a bit cooler, but not working for government.
We also know that the federal government has targeted our generation to pay off its debts. When we look at how many federal policies are born on the backs of a generation still struggling with double-digit unemployment, an average of $33,000 in student loan debt, we aren’t sold. From ObamaCare to entitlements, we are paying for benefits we will never see or never use at the level of our contributions.