Voluntary separations and workforce planning: How intent to leave public health agencies manifests in actual departure in the United States

Jonathon P. Leider, Katie Sellers, Kyle Bogaert, Rivka Liss-Levinson, Brian C. Castrucci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: To ascertain levels of turnover in public health staff between 2014 and 2017 due to retirement or quitting and to project levels of turnover for the whole of the state and local governmental public health in the United States nationally.

DESIGN: Turnover outcomes were analyzed for 15 128 staff from public health agencies between 2014 and 2017. Determinants of turnover were assessed using a logit model, associated with actually leaving one's organization. A microsimulation model was used to project expected turnover onto the broader workforce.

RESULTS: Between 2014 and 2017, 33% of staff left their agency. Half of the staff who indicated they were considering leaving in 2014 had done so by 2017, as did a quarter of the staff who had said they were not considering leaving. Staff younger than 30 years constituted 6% of the workforce but 13% of those who left (P < .001).

CONCLUSIONS: Public health agencies are expected to experience turnover in 60 000 of 200 000 staff positions between 2017 and 2020.

IMPLICATIONS: As much as one-third of the US public health workforce is expected to leave in the coming years. Retention efforts, especially around younger staff, must be a priority. Succession planning for those retiring is also a significant concern.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-45
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Public Health Management and Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
PH WINS was a joint effort of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials and the de Beaumont Foundation. The de Beaumont Foundation funded the project.

Funding Information:
Drs Leider and Liss-Levinson were funded by the de Beaumont Foundation for their time on this project.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. All rights reserved.


  • Public Health Workforce Interests and Needs Survey
  • turnover
  • workforce planning
  • Public Health
  • United States
  • Humans
  • Personnel Turnover
  • Workforce
  • Health Workforce
  • Intention
  • Surveys and Questionnaires

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Journal Article


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