Most Millennial State and Local Government Workers Satisfied With Jobs, Survey Finds

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The mission-driven aspects of public sector work could help explain the results, the group that released the research says.

A vast majority of state and local government workers between the ages of 24 and 40 are satisfied with their jobs, according to a recent survey.

The poll results, described in a new report from the National Institute on Retirement Security, found that 84% of state and local public employees who fit within the “millennial” age group are either “very” or “somewhat” satisfied with their current jobs.

In contrast, a 2016 Gallup poll that is cited in the report found that only 29% of millennials overall, or about 3-in-10, are “emotionally and behaviorally connected to their job and company” and that about 55% are not engaged in their jobs.

The new report from NIRS says that the high job satisfaction number for younger state and local government employees “might be explained by the fact that millennials say they want a purpose when it comes to their jobs, which often comes with public-service positions.”

“Millennials say their work must have meaning, that they want to work for organizations with a mission and purpose, and they want more than a paycheck,” the report adds.

Bureau of Labor Statistics figures indicate that as of December 2019 there were about 5.1 million state government workers in the U.S. and about 14.6 million local government employees. About one-third of these employees last year were millennials, according to the report.

The survey data came from online interviews with about 1,100 public-sector workers, conducted during August and September of last year. Participants included 362 teachers, 284 police officers, 204 firefighters and 268 people in other jobs.

Of the total respondents, 492 were part of the millennial generation, defined in the report as those born between 1980 and 1995.

About 80% of respondents in the millennial age group said that they believe they could earn more money working in the private sector. But an equal share also said that their salary, combined with their benefits, is competitive with what’s available elsewhere in the labor market.

One leading area of discontent for millennials had to do with opportunities for career advancement. Nearly 1-in-5 survey respondents in the age group said that they were somewhat or very dissatisfied with their prospects for advancement at their jobs.

The National Institute on Retirement Security’s members include a number of pension funds, labor unions, and investment firms and consultancies with ties to the public pension sector.

More about the group’s report can be found here.

Bill Lucia is a senior reporter for Route Fifty and is based in Olympia, Washington.

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