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So what’s up with agency attrition rates?

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Every year, tens of thousands of federal employees retire or otherwise leave their jobs. But some agencies have much higher turnover rates than others. That data nugget is buried in a recent Government Accountability Office report examining government workforce trends. From fiscal 2004 through 2012, the average annual government retirement rate was 3.5 percent, the average resignation rate, 2.4 percent, for a combined “separation rate” of 5.9 percent, according to the report.

But when GAO reviewers looked at 24 individual agencies, they found a pretty big spread around that average. During that 2004-12 period, for example, the Environmental Protection Agency had an average yearly separation rate of 4.3 percent, less than half the figure for the Office of Personnel Management. Here is a ranking of the agencies culled from the GAO numbers. While workforce age would clearly be one factor in explaining the variations, are there others that come to mind?

1. Environmental Protection Agency

Retirement: 2.5%

Resignation: 1.8%

Total: 4.3%

2. Justice Department

Retirement: 2.2%

Resignation: 2.3%

Total: 4.5%

3. National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Retirement: 3.1%

Resignation: 1.7%

Total: 4.8%

4. Transportation Department

Retirement: 4.2%

Resignation: 0.9%

Total: 5.1%

5.  Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Retirement: 3.2%

Resignation: 2.2%

Total: 5.4%

6. Department of Health and Human Services

Retirement: 2.5%

Resignation: 3.0%

Total: 5.5%

7. Social Security Administration

Retirement: 4.2%

Resignation: 1.5%

Total: 5.7%

8. Department of Veterans Affairs

Retirement: 3%

Resignation: 3.1%

Total: 6.1%

9. Housing and Urban Development Department

Retirement: 4.2%

Resignation: 2.0%

Total: 6.2%

10. Department of Homeland Security

Retirement: 1.6%

Resignation: 5.0%

Total: 6.6%

11. General Services Administration

Retirement: 3.7%

Resignation: 2.9%

Total: 6.6%

12. Agriculture Department

Retirement: 3.9%

Resignation: 2.8%

Total: 6.7%

13. Interior Department

Retirement: 3.6%

Resignation: 3.1%

Total: 6.7%

14. Energy Department

Retirement: 4.3%

Resignation: 2.6%.

Total: 6.9%

15. State Department

Retirement: 2.7%

Resignation: 4.2%

Total: 6.9%

16,  Labor Department

Retirement: 3.6%

Resignation: 3.4%

Total: 7.0%

18. U.S. Agency for International Development

Retirement: 4.1%

Resignation: 2.9%

Total: 7.0%

19. Defense Department

Retirement: 3.5%

Resignation: 3.6%

Total: 7.1%

20. National Science Foundation

Retirement: 3.2%

Resignation: 3.9%

Total: 7.1%

21. Treasury Department

Retirement: 3.6%

Resignation: 4.0%

Total: 7.6%

22.  Education Department

Retirement: 4.3%

Resignation: 3.7%

Total: 8.0%

23. Small Business Administration

Retirement: 5.4%

Resignation: 2.9%

Total: 8.3%

24. Office of Personnel Management

Retirement: 3.7%

Resignation: 7.2%

Total: 10.9%

 

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Comments

  1. Doug Coleman Says:
    February 10th, 2014 at 4:27 am

    Hi Sean;

    The other interesting point is that when you add in the rate of involuntary departures (firings) the separation rate climbs to around 6.5 percent.

    This is more that twice the separation rate of private industry contained in BLS statistics as measured over several years.

    http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/jolts.pdf

  2. Green Says:
    February 23rd, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    As agencies become more paranoid about retention of younger workers there will be more institutional descrimination against older , more qualified employees. More folks will leave and their replacements will be less qualified and it will continue to build on itself. Unfortunately it has already begun in some agencies like DOD. Many managers don’t know enough to even realize that it takes years to become qualified in many areas and think anyone including those with only a few years of experience are fully qualified. Unfortunately they are building a house of cards and practicing descrimination at the same time.