The Federal Government is losing employees. The Federal Times reports that the decline in the Federal civilian workforce has been going on since September 2011. The overall decline is minor but it is a significant change from the continuous growth the workforce experienced from December 2007. During that period of growth, the Federal workforce grew by 13 percent, some 250,000 jobs.
The number of Federal employees in May 2012 was 2,204,100. Since May of 2011, that number declined by 28,400. Between March and May 2012, the Federal workforce dropped by 4,500 employees.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an 8.2 percent decline in the Federal workforce between 2010 and 2020. The few occupations where the BLS predicts that there will be growth include computer management, tax examiners and revenue agents, statisticians, lawyers and transportation security screeners. Top level managers and computer technicians look to lose the largest percentages of current positions although cuts are projected for nearly all occupations.
The Republican candidate for President in the 2012 election, Mitt Romney, has proposed cutting the Federal workforce by 10 percent. His proposal would cut the numbers through attrition. There have been no proposals from either party for mass layoffs at the Federal level.
The 2013 budget submitted by the Department of Defense, although not adopted as such, illustrates the general direction that all the Federal government’s departments are taking. It proposed a reduction in active duty personnel of 22,000 and a reduction in civilian DoD employees of 10,000. That rolls the DoD’s manpower back to 2009 levels.
The lack of a budget for the last three federal fiscal years has a greater effect on the level of the federal workforce than any other factor. Congress, through continuing resolutions, rarely mandates personnel cuts. With an election approaching, even the looming threat of sequestration appears not to be affecting employment numbers at significant levels.