In a recently published Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) report,¹ data on employee tenure were examined to see how tenure had changed since the inception of the pandemic. Workers in the public sector were shown to have significantly longer tenures, on average, than those in the private sector, even after the onset of the pandemic. This chartbook builds upon that publication by more closely examining public-sector workers.

The latest data on employee tenure from the January 2022 Supplement to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS) are examined and compared with trends from previous CPS data on employee tenure.² Public-sector workers are broken out into the level of government in which they are employed —federal, state, or local. This allows for differentiating the tenure levels across the levels of government to see if they are facing different challenges for providing retirement benefits and managing their work force going forward as the Baby Boomers retire and the Millennials grow in their share of the labor force.

¹Copeland, Craig, “Trends in Employee Tenure, 1983–2022,” EBRI Issue Brief, no. 578(Employee Benefit Research Institute, January 19, 2023).

² The latest data come from the January 2022 Supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly survey of approximately 60,000 households on demographics, labor force status, and other characteristics of the civilian, noninstitutionalized American population. The U.S. Census Bureau conducts this CPS supplement for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Tenure levels for previous years come from various other supplements to the CPS. For a further discussion of the data sources, see the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ “Employee Tenure Technical Note” at viewed February 6, 2023). Results of research from BLS and EBRI are compiled in this research to present various trends in employee tenure.

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PRRL - Trends in Public-Sector Employee Tenure, 2000-2022