7 Age

  • Non-casual median age in 2018



  • Non-casual employees under 35 in 2018

  • Non-casual employees 55 or over in 2018


    +5.6 pp vs. 2008

  • Non-casual average retirement age


    years in 2018 vs. 61.3 years in 2008

The median age of NSW public sector non-casual employees experienced the first reduction since 2008, decreasing from 45 years to 44 years in 2018. The median age for males was 45, and for females 44. The majority of the workforce still fell in the ‘30 to 54 years’ age band, which accounted for 62.0% of the total workforce in 2018, down from 68.3% in 2008. The proportion of employees aged 60 or over continued to increase. In 2008, 6.4% of sector employees were aged 60 or over, compared to 11.6% in 2018.

The median age of the NSW public sector non-casual employee workforce remained higher than the median age of the NSW population. At June 2017, the median age of the NSW population1 was 37.5, up from 36.9 at June 2007. The median age of males in 2017 was 36.6 compared with 38.4 years for females.

Figure 7.1 shows that a higher proportion of NSW public sector workers were aged 55 or over (24.5%) compared with the number in this age bracket across the entire NSW workforce (18.8%). Also, proportionately fewer workers were aged 35 or under (26.7% in the public sector vs. 40.0% in NSW workforce).

Figure 7.1 Age profile of NSW public sector and NSW employed persons, 2018

Please use the tabs to explore other years



A comparison of 2017 figures for the NSW public sector and the Victorian public sector2 reveals a similar age distribution. The greatest difference between the two jurisdictions was in the ‘25 to 34 years’ age range: with 21.7% in NSW and 25.0% in Victoria. Workers aged up to 34 years accounted for 26.2% of NSW public sector employees and 30% of employees in the Victorian public sector.


Table 7.1 Median age and proportion of non-casual employees aged over 44 years by service, at census date, 2018

Service Median age Employees aged > 44 years (%)
Public Service 45 51.3
NSW Health Service 43 47.1
NSW Police Force 40 35.6
Teaching Service 42 44.8
Transport Service 47 56.5
Other Crown services 50 65.8
Total government sector 44 49.4
External to government sector 51 61.8
State owned corporations 45 52.0
Total public sector 44 49.5

Table 7.1 shows the median age of non-casual employees in the NSW public sector by service at census date, and the percentage representation of employees above the sector’s median age in each service.

The NSW Police Force had the lowest median age, at 40, among all other services. It also had the highest proportion of employees aged under 35 (31.2% compared with 26.3% across the sector) and the lowest proportion of employees aged 55 or over (9.3% compared with 23.9% across the sector). However, the NSW Police Force has also shown patterns of ageing. The Police Force had a lower median age in 2014, at 38. At that time the proportion of employees aged under 35 was 36.5%, and only 7.0% of employees were over 54.

Other Crown services had the highest median age, at 50. Among these services, 76.5% of Clerical and Administrative Workers were 44 or older, and this cohort had a median age of 52. Among Professionals, 69.2% were aged 44 or over.

Age diversity offers the advantage of a range of skill sets, perspectives, varied experiences and talents, and knowledge sharing to the workforce. The proportion of public sector employees aged up to 44 grew marginally, from 49.9% in 2008 to 50.5% in 2018. Figure 7.3 highlights that the largest change in terms of proportion of the workforce occurred in the ‘45 to 54 years’ category. In 2008, the percentage of employees aged 45 to 54 was 31.7%. This has declined to 25.6% in 2018. At the same time, the proportion of employees in the ‘55 to 64’ and ‘65 plus’ age bands increased by 3.3 percentage points and 2.3 percentage points respectively.


The non-casual age profile of the workforce across the public sector is varied. Figure 7.4 shows the trends in the concentration of the workforce within the public sector. Only 0.6% of NSW Police Force employees were 65 or over compared to 5.2% in the Transport Service. Employees of the NSW Police Force and Teaching Service were highly concentrated in the ‘25 to 44’ age group, whereas in other Crown services many tended to be aged 45 to 54. Above the age of 60, the number of employees dropped dramatically, and this drop was consistent across services. This is reflected in the median retirement age for the public sector of 63.


Retirement age

While the proportion of non-casual employees aged over 65 has steadily grown, the average retirement age has incrementally increased. The average retirement age of public sector employees has risen steadily from 61.3 in 2008 to 63.7 in 2018.


This change was primarily driven by an increase in the proportion of employees retiring at the age of 65 or over. This doubled from 22.0% in 2008 (862) to 41.9% (1,700) in 2018.


Comparing the distribution of public sector retirements for non-casual employees between 2008 and 2018, Figure 7.6 highlights that the point of divergence is the age of 65. The proportion of employees retiring at 65 or under has decreased while there is an increase in the proportion who retired at 65 or over.

The proportion of retirements at the age of 55 experienced the largest reduction across all ages. Among all those who retired in 2008, 6.7% were aged 55. In 2018, 0.5% retired at 55. Conversely, the proportion of retirements at age 66 increased from 4.3% in 2008 to 8.7% in 2018. In both 2008 and 2018, most people retired at 60 (19.2% and 16.9% respectively).

The average retirement age for females was 0.5 years lower than for males in 2008. However, this situation has reversed in 2018, with the average retirement age for females 0.4 years higher than for males. Between 2008 and 2018, average age at retirement increased by 2.8 years for females, from 61.0 to 63.8. Over the same period the average retirement age for males increased 1.9 years, from 61.5 to 63.4.

While not directly comparable, it is interesting to note that the average retirement age for both men and women in the public sector was lower than the intended retirement age of the broader NSW workforce in 2017.3 The NSW public sector average retirement age (63.4) was 1.6 years lower than the average age at which people intended to retire in the NSW broader workforce (65). The differential was higher for males than for females, with male employees retiring 2.3 years earlier than the intended age of retirement of males in the broader workforce (63.2 years vs 65.5 years), while for females the gap was one year (63.4 versus 64.4 years in the NSW broader workforce). However this situation may change as the average retirement age continues to increase in the public sector. Retirement under the age of 55 accounted for 2.2% of total retirements in 2008, and has decreased to 0.8% in 2018. Further analysis on the relationship between intentions and actual retirement can provide a useful input in predicting the shape of the future workforce and support workforce planning.


1 Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2018, Regional Population by Age and Sex, Australia, 2017, cat. no. 3235.0, viewed 17 October 2018, http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/3235.0
2 Victoria Public Sector Commission, ‘Data Insights: A Decade of Public Sector Workforce Data, Age Profile’, https://vpsc.vic.gov.au/data-and-research/data-insights/data-insights-decade-public-sector-workforce-data/
3 Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2017, Retirement and Retirement Intentions, Australia, cat. no. 6238.0, viewed 17 October 2018, http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/6238.0