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.