Recent surveys of this group bring additional understanding to their motives and expectations. Gallup, the consultancy and pollster organisation, in conjunction with the Council for Excellence in Government, notes that nearly 30% of millennials would find a public service job “very appealing”. Only 10% of those over 30 years old share that feeling.

As they look to their older generational siblings (those now in their 30s), the millennials, perhaps guided by populist rhetoric, also note that many men in their 30s appear to be earning less than their fathers did at that age. Some observers note that millennials have concerns about the pace of change in the economy, particularly in places dominated by sectors that struggle to maintain global competitiveness, although they may feel discouraged that the projections for job growth today are largely for the untrained (retail sales, food preparation, call centres, etc). Twenty-five years ago (when millennials were being born) labour economists offered a similar list.

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Recent surveys also indicate that these young people are inclined toward considering government as a potential instrument for addressing and fixing problems. So, their potential interest in working for the government may embody a traditional refrain: doing well by doing good.

Some private sector employers, especially those who are new to the US, struggle in their efforts to retain millennials. Given these data, companies’ commitment to corporate social responsibility may need to become an increasingly important part of their employee value proposition.

Daniel Malachuk works with business and government leaders on global direct investment strategies. He has advised many of the world’s leading companies and served in the public sector as director of White House operations.

E-mail:malachuk@oxford-analytica.com