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8 Stats for Leaders: From the Retirement Gap to Cloud Spending

Eight statistics every government leader should know.

I love hearing about the latest trends in technology, but sometimes it’s hard to separate hype from reality. So how do you decide what to focus on? Personally, when I’m faced with that situation, I turn to recent studies and statistics. That’s why I pulled together eight key statistics every government leader should know and what it means for his or her job.

1. We Live Online — According to the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, 85 percent of adults use the Internet. Even more dramatic is who’s using it: 98 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds, 83 percent of 50- to 64-year-olds, and 56 percent of those 65 and older. To me, this shows a dramatic shift in which people are prioritizing government services to be online for almost every demographic.

2. Cellphones Are Everywhere — As of this summer, 91 percent of adults had cellphones (up from 73 percent in 2006), while smartphone adoption rates are growing even faster. As of summer 2013, 51 percent of adults have smartphones, an increase from 35 percent only two years earlier. This is being shown in mobile Internet traffic, which has gone from less than 1 percent of Internet traffic in 2009 to 15 percent in May 2013. Government needs to move to a mobile-first approach to services using these new devices.

3. Mobile Commerce Is on the Rise — Mobile commerce is rapidly rising, with four out of five consumers using smartphones to shop, according to Internet analytics company comScore. And a number of consumers are going mobile only. Twenty-five percent of consumers engage in online shopping only via mobile devices, Prosper Mobile Insights reported. Governments need to start moving quickly to mobile commerce (not just e-commerce).

4. Retirements Are Real — At the federal level, by 2016, more than a third of the workforce will be eligible to retire, according to the Government Accountability Office. This includes nearly 60 percent of senior executives and almost half of top managers. The situation is even worse at the state and local level. Succession planning needed to start yesterday.

5. Interest in Public Service Is Waning —
To solve the retirement gap, we need new blood. And the biggest group missing in government is the millennials. By next year, millennials will account for 36 percent of the U.S. workforce, and by 2025, they will make up 75 percent of the global workplace. Yet as of 2011, only 6 percent are interested in a career in public service, down from an all-time high of 10.2 percent in 2009, according to the Partnership for Public Service. Government agencies need to work hard to recruit millennials since they aren’t currently looking on government agency job pages.

6. Demographic Changes — According to Pew Research, Hispanics are the largest minority group, making up 16 percent of the U.S. population. By 2020, they will make up 19 percent and will represent 23 percent of the population by 2030. In addition, Asians will increase to 6 percent of the overall U.S. population by 2020. Government agencies will need to make sure their services reflect the cultural norms and languages of these communities, while also including them in outreach efforts.

7. Cloud Is Here — As a technology leader, all trends point to the cloud. IDC predicts that public cloud spending will increase from $40 billion in 2012 to $100 billion in 2016. The move to the cloud has real implications in terms of ensuring that your employees have the right skills as it requires different procurement, technical deployments and vendor management.

8. Rise of the Baby Boomers — The 65 and older population grew 18 percent from 2000 to 2011 and is only expected to increase as the oldest baby boomers have already started to retire. Think about ways to leverage the baby boomers: Can you engage them as volunteers in your programs? Can you make your town friendly to baby boomers so they retire in your district?

Use these statistics to start planning for your agency’s future. The only constant is change, and government agencies need to be adapting to the changing landscape.


Miriam Jones is a former chief copy editor of Government Technology, Governing, Public CIO and Emergency Management magazines.