Announcing The Largest Federal Workforce. Ever.

The Era of Really Big Government Payrolls trudges on through the night on a relentless journey to the edge of bankruptcy. Another Obama record, creating the largest federal work force in history:

From 1981 through 2008, the civilian work force remained at about 1.1 million to 1.2 million, with a low of 1.07 million in 1986 and a high of more than 1.2 million in 1993 and in 2008. In 2009, the number jumped to 1.28 million.

Including both the civilian and defense sectors, the federal government will employ 2.15 million people in 2010 and 2.11 million in 2011, excluding Postal Service workers....

The decline in 2011 is mostly due to temporary Census workers hitting the skids.

After years of decline at the end of the Cold War, the Defense Department is restaffing. Mr. Obama estimated that the Pentagon will have 720,000 employees this year and 757,000 employees next year - up from a low of 649,000 in 2003.

The data also show that the Department of Homeland Security will grow by 7,000 a year in 2010 and 2011, and the Veterans Affairs Department will grow by 12,000 in 2010 and an additional 4,000 in 2011....

Mr. Obama is in a situation similar to that of Mr. Clinton, who took office when the budget deficit was at a record high and government bureaucracy was expanding, even though the Pentagon was shedding workers with the end of the Cold War.

Mr. Clinton in 1996 declared that "the era of big government is over" and took steps to work with Congress to control spending and cut the work force, which already had been trending lower.

As he left office in 2000, Mr. Clinton boasted that his administration had helped cut 377,000 government jobs, leaving the smallest civilian federal work force since 1960.

Federal employees are averaging about a 1.4 percent increase this year, a development that is much better than in the non-government sector, where firings and pay reductions are common. Indeed, it's so good that it stymied a response from a big government union:

The American Federation of Government Employees, the union that represents many government workers, said it was combing through the budget and did not have a comment.

More here.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • I, Kahn O'Clast||

    But when you do the math and see that the Federal Workforce is still less than 1% of the population that does not seem so bad (nor really believable -- if you had asked me I would have guessed 5-8%). So I'll take the numbers with a grain of salt.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    That number isn't counting state or local government people though, obviously.

  • ||

    Wow, who would have thunk it. Thats amazing dude.

    RT
    www.web-privacy.cz.tc

  • Alan Vanneman||

    "...a high of more than 1.2 million in 1993 and in 2008. In 2009, the number jumped to 1.28 million."

    So it was "more than 1.2 million" in 2008 and then it "jumped" to 1.28 million in 2009. In other words, an increase of between 1 and 79,999 federal employees. A little more precision would be appreciated. But I would totally be on board with the idea of a shrinking Defense Department. Once again, Obama clings to the classic Democratic "whatever they ask for" approach to dealing with the military.

  • wayne||

    Alan,

    Shrinking defense won't solve the problem. Defense spending as a percentage of GDP is quite small. Entitlements is where the big money is spent.

  • JB||

    Obama wants as many people as possible to be dependent on sucking his dick.

    And the hordes sign up to suck his dick.

    Government employees = retarded fetuses.

  • Syd Henderson||

    From 1981 through 2008, the civilian work force remained at about 1.1 million to 1.2 million, with a low of 1.07 million in 1986 and a high of more than 1.2 million in 1993 and in 2008. In 2009, the number jumped to 1.28 million.

    Including both the civilian and defense sectors, the federal government will employ 2.15 million people in 2010 and 2.11 million in 2011, excluding Postal Service workers....

    So we had a trivial increase in 2009, and the 2010 and 2011 include Defense workers, while the 1981 - 2009 figures do not. The civilian increase probably doesn't even keep up with population growth.

  • Jason||

    Increasing the size of the military is the easiest way for government to decrease unemployment.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    And the best way to suck all the real productivity left out of the economy.

    Awesome how that works, huh? The government could also cure unemployment by hiring people to dig ditches with spoons and fill them back in again.

  • adam||

    These numbers aren't meaningful in assessing the true growth of the government unless you also tell us the increase/decrease in the contractor and grantee workforce, as well as the state and local government forces that exist to fulfill federal mandates. If the addition of 1 federal employee is matched by a decrease of one contractor employee, then the government is the same size.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Unfortunately Adam, most of the numbers that get thrown around in all news mediums are pretty useless.

    I'm constantly annoyed by GDP figures, but this one's a bit obnoxious too.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement