- Young federal government employees left their jobs at higher rates than their older counterparts, according to a new report.
- The nonprofit Partnership for Public Service analyzed attrition rates from October 2020 to September 2021.
- Those under age 30 had an attrition rate of 8.5% — higher than the government-wide rate of around 6%.
Young people have been quitting their jobs in droves, and that includes those who work for the federal government.
The attrition rate for federal government employees under the age of 30 was 8.5% — double the average level of their older counterparts aged 30 to 59.
That’s according to a new report released Tuesday by the Partnership for Public Service, a nonpartisan nonprofit that analyzed turnover trends in the federal government from fiscal year 2021, between October 2020 and September 2021. Insider obtained an early copy of the report.
The young-employee data, which includes more than 11,000 people who quit, was also significantly higher than the federal government-wide attrition rate at around 6%.
James-Christian Blockwood, executive vice president at the Partnership for Public Service, told Insider in a statement that the data should send a signal to agency leaders to pay attention to their young employees.
“Government already struggles to attract and hire young talent, so it must ensure that young people are not only getting hired into the federal workforce but also staying in it,” the report read.
Research shows that some of the reasons young people in the United States have left their jobs in recent years is because of low pay, burnout and stress, and a lack of remote opportunities.
Low pay was a chief concern among federal government workers under 30, according to the Partnership for Public Service’s 2021 Best Places to Work assessment.
“All set of employees showed dissatisfaction with pay that went up markedly from 2020 to 2021,” Loren DeJonge Schulman, vice president of research, evaluation and modernizing government, told Insider. “But that age cohort, a cohort under 30, was the highest age cohort in terms of their dissatisfaction with pay.”
Yet the age group scored high with general job satisfaction, the report found.
“This finding suggests that the under 30 cohort, a group with an attrition rate of 8.5 percent – may leave their positions for other reasons besides overall job frustration,” Schulman told Insider in a statement.
Schulman, who’s served in key roles at both the National Security Council and Department of Defense, said the first two years are formative to a new federal government employee’s experience. That’s the time they go through employee onboarding programs, find mentors, and learn about their role in the government. But for people who got hired during the pandemic, that experience has been difficult.
“Those two years, their first few years in government would have been incredibly disruptive,” Schulman said. “My assumption would be that if something could have gone wrong, it went wrong in that time period.”
“This presents an opportunity for informed decision-making on how to improve retention,” she added.
The only age group that had a higher attrition rate – 16.7% – than the young government employees were those over 60, which can largely be attributed to retirement.
Another datapoint from the report was that employees with less than five years of experience left their jobs at higher rates than those with longer tenures in government service.
Overall, the federal government-wide attrition rate for fiscal 2021 was consistent with pre-pandemic levels, per the report. But the slight increase in attrition from the third quarter to the fourth should prompt federal leaders to focus on those who may be under significant stress, Schulman said.
“That slight increase in the last quarter could be just a blip,” she said. “Or it could be a hint that we are going to continue to see some of those Great Resignation patterns.”