OPM reports average retirement age is creeping up

Federal civilian employees are delaying retirement until an average age of 61.8 years, continuing a three-year trend recorded by the Office of Personnel Management.

Issued at the end of September and covering fiscal years 2015-2017, the OPM report  comprised most full-time employees of the executive branch, who make up nearly 90 percent of the federal workforce.

Excluded from the report were employees of the Postal Service and many intelligence agencies, but it did include some parts of the legislative dranch, according to OPM. The data covers most types of retirement: Voluntary, Early Out, Disability, Mandatory, and In-lieu of Involuntary Action. It does not include contractors and contract employees.

The analysis followed OPM’s retirement claims report  last week showing 7,142 employees filed for retirement in September, bringing the FY 2018 total to 105,298. That’s a 24 percent increase over FY 2017. An OPM breakdown of the ages for those retirees won’t come until this time next year.

The OPM graphic shows 61.8 as the average age for a retiree in FY 2017. It  indicates 25 percent of the retirees in 2017 were under 57.7, and 75 percent were under 65.5.

The analysis by OPM’s Office of Strategy & Innovation Data Analysis Group also broke down the retirement numbers by agency, state, gender, ethnicity and occupation.


The report covered more than 100 federal agencies, and found that among the three largest federal employers, all experienced an increase in the average retirement age.

The largest employer, the Veteran Affairs Department with 342,111 full-time permanent employees in September 2017,  the average retirement age  increased by 1.3 percent from 62.5 in FY 2015 to 63.3 in FY 2017.

For the next largest employer, the Department of Army (228,241 FTE), the average retirement age  increased in the three year period by 1.5 percent to 62.3 in 2017.

The third largest employer, the Department of Navy (201,127 FTE), saw an small increase in the age of retirees to 61.8 in FY 2017.

Retirement age by State

The  three states with the most federal employees all experienced an increase in the average retirement age. In California, the top state, the average retirement age increased by 0.3 percent  to 62.0 in FY 2017. Second was Virginia, where the average retirement age  increased by 1 percent to 61.8. In the District of Columbia, which has the third largest number of federal civilian employees,  the average retirement age was up slightly to 62.2.

Retirement age by gender

The OPM report found the average retirement age has increased for both men and women. But it said the age at which women retire has risen, and now approaches that of men. For women, the average retirement age in FY 2017 was 61.7. For men, the average age went up to 61.9.

Retirement age by ethnicity & race

The OPM report showed employees with Asian ethnicity retired at 63.8, on average,  later than employees representing all other racial groups. Hispanic or Latino employees tended to take retirement at an earlier age, 60.6. The largest increase over the reporting period was by those who claim two or more races, up by 2.5 percent to 61.4 in FY 2017.

Retirement age by Occupation

In the last three fiscal years, the Clerical group has overtaken Professionals in average retirement age, according to the OPM analysis.  At 63.4, the Clericals now retire slightly later than Professionals (63.1). Both groups tend to retire at an older age than Administrators (60.9 years).

Copyright © 2023 Federal News Network. All rights reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Related Stories

    Getty Images/iStockphoto/baramee2554businessman holding personal items box ready moving leaving company. concept layoffs.

    New and processed claims both fall in latest OPM retirement report

    Read more
    Getty Images/iStockphoto/HUNG KUO CHUNretirement

    Are more federal employees leaving government under Trump administration?

    Read more