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MissionSquare Research Institute Study Details Views of Younger Public Service Employees by Occupation

Education Employees Express Highest Levels of Financial Concern While Public Safety Workers Are Most Likely to Make Their Jobs a Career

March 28, 2024

A new research brief from MissionSquare Research Institute compares the sentiment of younger public service employees by occupation, including those who work in education, health care, public safety, and other professions. The research details attitudes of public employees aged 35 and under about their views on their finances, employer benefits, morale, job satisfaction, and long-term career plans.

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

Select findings of the research are as follows:

  • Only 26% of younger K-12 education workers feel a sense of financially security, while nearly half (49%) of public safety workers indicate they are financially secure.

  • With respect to stress, 21% of the respondents in public works, utilities, and transportation have felt very stressed during the past six months. The highest level of stress is among those working in K – 12 education, with 42% feeling very stressed.

  • 58% of public safety employees indicated an interest in remaining in the public sector until they retire. Those with public works, utilities, and transportation jobs were least likely (32%) to spend their career in public service.

Gerald Young, MissionSquare Research Institute Senior Research Analyst said, “This new issue brief provides state and local government leaders with detailed insights on the views of younger workers by various professions. The research clearly shows Millennials and GenZ education workers report the highest levels of stress and financial concern, while higher salaries was the top priority across all professions when employees are considering a job change. We hope government leaders can leverage this data, along with our related analyses by gender, race, and ethnicity, to increase their understanding of what motivates younger job prospects and tailor their recruitment and retention efforts to best meet those interests.”

This research, which is based on a nationally representative online survey of 1,004 state and local government employees aged 35 and under, was conducted by Greenwald Research. It explores motivations for working in the public sector, attitudes about finances, views on employer benefits, retirement thoughts, morale, job satisfaction, and retention issues. The research follows a recent report exploring the views of younger public service workers, "35 and Under in the Public Sector: Why Younger Workers Enter and Why They Stay (or Don't)." Read the research.

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 $76.5 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 February 29, 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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