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MissionSquare Research Institute Study Examines Sentiment of Younger Public Service Employees by Race and Ethnicity

March 7, 2024

A new research brief from MissionSquare Research Institute compares the sentiment of younger public service employees by race and ethnicity. This research is published at a time when many state and local government officials are working to attract younger workers to public service careers while also strengthening diversity, equity, and inclusion in their agencies. 

The detailed insights are presented in the research brief, “35 and Under in the Public Sector: Comparisons by Race and Ethnicity.” Read the brief.

This brief comes on the heels of the in-depth report, “35 and Under in the Public Sector: Why Younger Workers Enter and Why They Stay (or Don't).” Read the research.

Gerald Young, MissionSquare Research Institute Senior Research Analyst said, "Building on the Research Institute’s earlier study of state and local government workforce diversity, this issue brief offers agency officials critical insights on the views of younger workers by race and ethnicity. Public employers continue to face an uphill battle when it comes to hiring and keeping Millennials and GenZ workers. It’s our hope that agency officials will leverage this research to gain a deeper understanding of the preferences and sentiment of their younger workers. In doing so, leaders will be better positioned to attract and retain engaged workers who are at the heart of delivering public services in their communities."

Select findings of the research are as follows:

  • African American and Hispanic employees were more likely to identify salary (both 20%) as the top factor attracting them to the public sector, while White employees were more likely to identify personal satisfaction (15%).
  • African American respondents were more likely to indicate that they hold a second job (35%), compared to employees identifying as White (25%) or Hispanic (both 19%).
  • On five of 11 key retirement issues, African American employees are more likely to respond that they understand the subject very/somewhat well compared to Hispanic or White employees. On the remaining issues surveyed, there were no significant differences by race and ethnicity.
  • Regarding savings behavior, Hispanic and White employees were more likely to say they could not afford to save more for retirement (both 61%) compared to African American employees (46%).
  • Looking at a longer career horizon, whether or not they stay with their current employer, 52% of White employees indicate a desire to stay in the public sector until they retire, compared to 27% of African American employees.

This brief, based on a nationally representative online survey of 1,004 state and local government employees aged 35 and under conducted by Greenwald Research, explores motivations for working in the public sector, attitudes about finances, views on employer benefits, retirement thoughts, morale, job satisfaction, and retention issues.

About MissionSquare Research Institute

MissionSquare Research Institute promotes excellence in state and local government and other public service organizations to attract and retain talented employees. The organization identifies leading practices and conducts research on retirement plans, health and wellness benefits, workforce demographics and skill set needs, labor force development, and topics facing the not-for-profit industry and education sector. MissionSquare Research Institute brings together leaders and respected researchers. More information and access to research and publications are available at

About MissionSquare Retirement

Since our founding in 1972, MissionSquare Retirement has been dedicated to simplifying the path to retirement security for public service employees. As a mission-based, nonstock, nonprofit financial services company, we manage and administer over $74 billion in assets.* Our commitment to delivering results-oriented retirement plans, education, investments, and personalized advice sets us apart. Explore how we enable public service workers to build a secure financial future. For more information, visit or follow the company on Facebook, LinkedIn, and X.

*As of January 31, 2024. Includes 457, 401, 403(b), Retirement Health Savings (RHS) plans, Employer Investment Program (EIP) plans, affiliated IRAs, and investment-only assets.

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