Government job applications by recent college graduations increased by 2% in 2024, according to a survey conducted by Handshake.

Government job applications by recent college graduations increased by 2% in 2024, according to a survey conducted by Handshake. Chuck Savage / Getty Images

The class of 2024 is applying to more government jobs, says college networking website

Handshake’s report says more college graduates are applying to government jobs, as hiring slows in technology and professional services.

The class of 2024 is applying to more government jobs, according to a report released this month by a popular networking website for college students. 

In total, roughly 7.4% of job applications from this year’s college graduating class on the website Handshake were sent for government openings. In comparison, that number for the class of 2023 was 5.5%. 

“As hiring slows in technology and professional services, the Class of 2024 is shifting their applications toward other industries. Government is the clearest winner from this trend,” the report said. 

Handshake in March surveyed nearly 2,700 students planning to graduate with bachelor’s degrees this year. The survey covered 616 higher education institutions. Survey responses were weighted by gender, race and ethnicity and institutional selectivity. 

One student interviewed for the report said job security was a significant factor in their decision to work for the federal government. 

“I received an offer to work for a federal agency while in college. After graduating, I expect to be converted permanently with a raise,” they said. “Working for the federal government will open doors for me, and I’m extremely thankful to be in a secure position where I don’t have to worry about being laid off.”

Job stability was the top factor (76%) that would make respondents more likely to apply for a job. Christine Cruzvergara, Handshake's chief education strategy officer, said in an email that this is partly why the federal government is attractive to new grads. 

"First, this generation aspires to do meaningful work and make a difference – working in government puts you on the frontlines of progress," she said. "Second, the benefits the government offers, like robust 401k and retirement plans and student loan repayment programs, align with Gen Z priorities around financial stability. And lastly, grads have been paying close attention to news about tech layoffs and are seeking out legacy companies and sectors that can withstand economic instability." 

Hybrid work, which Congress and the Biden administration have tried to scale back for federal employees, would make almost half of respondents (46%) more likely to apply. 

While more college graduates may be applying for government jobs, young people are still underrepresented in the federal workforce. Those under the age of 30 make up 7% of the full-time civil service despite being 20% of the employed U.S. labor force, according to the nonpartisan nonprofit Partnership for Public Service.  

The Partnership recently released survey data that showed 67% of 18- to 34-year-olds agree that a federal career is an opportunity to improve their communities. But an almost equal amount — 68% — say that they’ve never considered pursuing a non-military federal job. 

Its survey also found that 69% of individuals in that demographic say the federal government doesn’t communicate effectively with people their age. A Partnership researcher suggested that federal departments could use social media to build trust in the government and recruit younger workers. 

Relatedly, the Handshake survey reported that 73% of respondents said they were more likely to apply for a job after seeing employer content.