How does the age of government employees compare to other industries?
The median age of the total labor force in 2022 was 42.3, according to a 2022 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report. The BLS tracks median ages, rather than mean or average ages. Compared to other industries, government employees as a whole — including federal, state, and local levels — had the second-highest median age at 45.6.
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The agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting industry had the highest median age at 48.1, while the leisure and hospitality industry had the lowest median age at 32.7.
In 2017, the federal workforce had a larger proportion of older employees compared to the non-federal civilian labor force: 72% of federal employees were age 40 or older, while 54% of the civilian labor force was age 40 or older, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
How many federal employees are retiring each year?
According to OPM, 114,505 federal employees retired between September 2021 and 2022. This is the second-highest number of federal employees who have retired in a given fiscal year since 2000, when 77,383 employees retired. In 2013, a record 138,039 federal employees retired.
Federal employees are retiring later. In 2021, about 7% of the federal workforce was below the age of 30, compared to 23% in the private sector. Since 2007, the gap between the number of employees eligible for retirement based on their age and those in the 20–29 age cohort has grown across all 24 large and mid-size government agencies. In 2007, there was a 1.78% difference between the percentage of employees ages 20–29 and 60 or over. In 2022, that difference nearly quadrupled to 7.44%.
Is there a mandatory retirement age for federal employees?
Law enforcement officers and firefighters are required to retire at 57 if they have served for over 20 years, but other federal employees generally do not have a mandatory retirement age. The average retirement age of non-seasonal full-time permanent federal employees in fiscal year 2019 was 61.8. According to the OPM, 91.3% of these retirements were voluntary.
The other 8.7% of employees were classified under the retirement categories “Disability,” “Early Out,” and “Other.” Early out retirement is when employees are given the option of retiring early because their agency restructures or reduces in force, resulting in a significant percentage of employees either becoming separated or receiving reduced pay.
How will the government replace its aging workforce?
The president's FY 2024 budget plans to support the 2.2 million federal civilian employees by recruiting qualified candidates and prioritizing various early-career and internship programs. Over 35,000 government interns were hired within the 2023 budget, and the administration intends to provide more opportunities for existing and new early-career hires in 2024.
The government also plans to provide a pay increase of 5.2% to maintain competitiveness and attract more qualified employees. Additionally, the administration plans to expand and improve agency hiring capacity through “Talent Teams,” which intend to improve the efficiency and quality of the hiring process for applicants and hiring managers using their expertise.