Question: Whatever happened to the “retirement wave?” Wasn’t that supposed to create a lot of vacancies for younger federal employees to move up?
Answer: Predictions of a wave of federal employee retirements date back many years. This comes from the large population of baby boomer workers — almost all now in their mid-50s or older — becoming old enough to meet the needed combinations of age and years of service.
Some of those combinations allow for retirement as early as 55 — and even earlier in law enforcement and certain other occupations. However, except for those jobs, there is no mandatory retirement in the government. Many employees continue working out of desire or need — 15 percent already are eligible to retire, and the average federal retirement age now is about 62, up by more than two years over the past 10 years.
Just under 64,000 of the 2.1 million federal workers outside the self-funding U.S. Postal Service retired in the fiscal year ending last September. That was about average for the past 10 years and actually the lowest since 2010.
If budgets get tight, agencies may try to cut their staff costs by offering early retirements. But that’s just another form of optional retirement.