The numbers mean NOTHING, although it would be interesting to see how they compare across decades.
The numbers are just survey results, and people don't make decisions about jobs, particularly in a tough, perhaps permanently tough job market in advance. They make decisions based on what's available, and what makes sense AT THE TIME they are looking.
I never imagined myself working for government, while I was in grad. school, but when I came across a job posting that sounded perfect, I went for it. I would have done the same for any company, or school board. And, believe it or not, when I was hired in gov. I planned on staying a maximum of two years. I had no clue what it would be like. I stayed much longer.
Survey results generally, are problematic on any topic, because they don't relate directly to BEHAVIOR.