NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The Graying Of Government Workers

December 23, 1999

Employees of federal, state and local governments are an aging lot -- with younger job applicants moving faster into the private sector. That is the finding of a recent report by Samuel M. Ehrenhalt of the Rockefeller Institute of Government in Albany, N.Y.

  • Some 44 percent of government workers were 45 or older in 1998, compared with 30.1 percent of private-sector employees.
  • The government labor force's 45-64 year-old contingent jumped from 36.8 percent to 41.7 percent of total government payrolls between 1994 and 1998, whereas the share of private sector workers of similar age edged up from 25.3 percent to 27.8 percent over the same period.
  • Workers under age 35 represented just 27.6 percent of government workers in 1998, compared with 43.2 percent in the private sector.

With unemployment at a 30-year low and a labor force which is growing only slowly, the competition between the public and private sector for workers is bound to heat up, experts predict.

When it does, watch for calls for government pay raises.

Source: Gene Koretz, "Hiring Woes for States and Cities," Business Week, December 27, 1999.


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