The latest statistics on the federal workforce provide the strongest proof yet that government employment has peaked and is on its way down. USA Today reported that the federal workforce in April was down 11,600 employees from the same time last year.
This change shouldn’t come as much surprise — budgets are contracting, and many agencies have offered buyouts over the last year and a half to help deal with the tight fiscal environment. But Federal Times is wondering what this new reality means on the ground, for front-line workers who have to actually get the government’s work done.
Have you seen your office’s workforce contract over the last year or two? How has that affected you? Have you and your colleagues had to pick up duties that used to be done by departed workers? Are some duties that you’d like to get done falling between the cracks? Or have your supervisors decided to pull back and discontinue some missions?
We’d like to hear from you. E-mail me at email@example.com if you’d like to talk. If you’d prefer to speak off the record, that’s fine.
Roll Call this morning published a column from Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., who is pushing for significant reductions to the federal workforce — and calling out federal employee unions:
While White House officials have paid lip service to the commission recommendations [to cut the federal workforce by 10 percent], they remain beholden to public employee unions, vehemently opposed to modernization and rightsizing of the workforce, whose members and unions finance and mobilize on behalf of the president and Congressional Democrats.
[...] The fact is the federal payroll, and the legacy costs, must be rightsized. Public sector union leadership can recognize this and assist us, or they can continue their knee-jerk opposition to the modern workforce. We hope they choose the latter.
What do you think? Is Ross right, and are unions standing in the way of much-needed changes to the federal workplace? Or do you think unions aren’t the problem, and Ross is simply playing politics by taking a swipe at them? Sound off below.
It seems like every time we turn around, another federal agency is freezing hiring or making plans for a buyout. But even though staffing is taking a hit, agencies’ work isn’t going anywhere. And that’s not good news for the employees who remain.
Are tight staffing levels forcing you or your co-workers to work more overtime lately? We’d like to hear from you. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your story. If you only want to talk anonymously, that’s fine too. ‘Mkay? Yeaaahh…
Democrats smell blood in the water after House Speaker John Boehner said “so be it” in response to federal job losses this morning. Here’s a roundup of quotes, starting with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:
So be it? Democrats do not subscribe to Speaker Boehner’s verdict that if jobs are lost in this continuing resolution, so be it. Maybe so be it for him, but not so be it for the people who are losing their jobs.
From Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., whose Arlington district contains thousands of federal employees:
The Speaker is ignoring the fact that putting more federal employees out of work will be a significant drag on our economy. If you don’t have a job, you won’t take your family out to dinner, buy a car when your old one breaks down, or engage in the various activities that aid in our nation’s economic recovery. This will negatively impact our small businesses and the economy at larger, ultimately impeding private sector job growth.
And Rep. Rob Andrews, D-N.J.:
What I wonder is, so what if it’s aircraft controllers that make the skies safe? … So what if it’s USDA meat inspectors that make sure the food supply is safe? … I think there’s a lot of concern about that and this blithe assumption that anyone who works for the federal government must be part of waste, fraud and abuse, maybe that should extend to the Congress as well as the federal workforce. I think that’s a very flip attitude about a very serious problem.
UPDATE: Joe Beaudoin, president of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, just put out a statement of his own:
I’m surprised by Speaker Boehner’s indifference to the future of federal employees who go to work every day in every state to keep America safe and moving forward. These are the Americans who protect us from infectious diseases, warn us if a bad winter storm is coming, and care for our veterans. Can we afford to not fully support these critical efforts? Even in the harshest fiscal climate, these hard-working Americans, who are already doing their part by undergoing a two-year pay freeze, deserve our respect for the jobs they do.
Beaudoin also cites stats from the 2012 budget proposal released yesterday that shows the federal workforce has shrunk considerably, when compared to the overall U.S. population. The budget said that in 1953, there was one federal worker for every 78 people who lived in the United States. In 1989, that ratio had dropped to one fed for every 110 residents, and in 2009, it was down to one fed for every 147 residents. (The stats can be found on page 103 in this document.)
Video of Boehner’s comment is below:
Speaker of the House John Boehner and House Majority Whip Eric Cantor blasted the White House’s budget in a press conference this morning, saying it “spends too much, borrows too much, and taxes too much” and “will continue to hurt job creation.”
But Boehner’s not too wild about some of the jobs that have been created lately:
Over the last two years since President Obama has taken office, the federal government has added 200,000 new federal jobs. And if some of those jobs are lost in this, so be it. We’re broke. It’s time for us to get serious about how we’re spending the nation’s money.
Boehner told reporters he did not know how many federal jobs might be lost as spending is trimmed. But recent aggressive deficit reduction proposals would put 10 percent to 15 percent of the federal workforce on the chopping block.
As for fact-checking Boehner’s numbers, it’s a little tricky, since the numbers on the Office of Personnel Management’s FedScope site are slightly stale. In December 2008 — about a month before Obama was inaugurated — the federal government had 1,945,256 employees. In September 2010 — the latest quarter for which OPM data is available — the government had 2,113,980. That’s an increase of 168,724 employees — lower than the 200,000 figure Boehner cited, but not completely out of the ballpark, especially since we don’t yet have stats for the last four months.