Federal Government Jobs

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The Federal Government Workforce is Shrinking

If you are a current employee looking for a change, or perhaps interested in federal employment, don’t let politics impact your decision. Even though total federal employment is expected to decrease in the near future, many opportunities still exist as agencies must recruit highly skilled workers to replace those who retire or move on to other jobs. Look for the facts; research what interests you, and what is best for you in that career field.  There are many opportunities in both contracting work and federal employment.  By doing a little bit of research, keeping up with the federal news, as well as networking with peers and colleagues, discovering opportunities can be easy.

Reductions in hiring are taking place across the federal workforce, and much of it is due to a requirement to reduce government spending. From December 2016 through March of 2018, federal employment has decreased minimally from 2,093,868 to 2,075,006. specifically, there are just 18,862 fewer workers today than what was on board in December of 2016.

“The Department of State is down 9.28 percent, Education is down 12.94 percent, Labor is down 8.25 percent, and Housing and Urban Development is down 5.97 percent.  Homeland Security up 3.72 percent (mostly disaster recovery workers in the Federal Emergency Management Agency) and Veterans Affairs is up 1.73 percent. The Small Business Administration is up by 54 percent, also due to temporary employees required for disaster recovery work​” (Neal, 2018).  The agencies that are hiring made up for most of the losses in other agencies. Congress can do very little since they do not make the rules when it comes to hiring and spending in the executive branch.

There have also been modest staffing decreases in: Labor, Energy, Justice, Education, Housing, Transportation, and the Treasury.  There have also been modest increases in Commerce, Agriculture, Interior, and the VA according to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Seek out opportunities at all agencies regardless of which ones have had staffing cuts over the past two year.  Agencies must fill critical vacancies and competed for the limited applicants available. The tight job market and low unemployment rate may prove to be an opportunity for those seeking federal jobs.  Agencies may have to offer hiring incentives such as reimbursement for college tuition, relocation allowances and higher starting pay.

Many politicians look at the federal workforce as an overall drag on the budget, making it burdensome for taxpayers.  Prior presidents struggled with just how to balance the federal workforce with attrition, hiring freezes, and more.  President Trump recently focused on efficiencies, and he made promises to reduce the federal workforce through hiring freezes and attrition as well, but he looked to spare the military, public safety officials, and employees in the health industry.

The military and federal civil service combined equals a total workforce of approximately 4 million. Additional challenges are introduced since many are in ‘required’ positions, are deployed, and located at sensitive operations posts. Also,  The overall federal workforce as it stands under President Trump has decreased minimally.

Trump’s plan for attrition may also lead to outsourcing, which is a critical factor surrounding federal employment.  Contractors actually exceed the number of official federal employees. With 1/3rd of federal workers in their mid-50’s, 13% are 60+, and only 6.5% are under 30; we can see how the millennials aren’t fans of federal employment. There are several websites that provide data, statistics, job vacancy listings, and recommendations on federal employment. Visit USA Jobs. This federal jobs website serves as a great one stop source for information and federal employment data. Also visit Federal Jobs Network. This site consolidates information from many federal sites including USA Jobs to streamline your job search.


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The information provided may not cover all aspects of unique or special circumstances, federal and postal regulations, and programs are subject to change. Our articles and replies are time sensitive. Over time, various dynamic human resource guidance and factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM, the postal service or any federal entity. You should consult with school counselors, hiring agency personnel offices, and human resource professionals where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages

About The Author

Dr. Donna Day is a Manager at the Department of Defense, where she has been for more than 30 years. With a background in Information Assurance, Customer Engagement and Marketing, more recently she has been studying Cyber security Policy and Management at the University of Maryland, University College (UMUC). She earned her Doctor of Management, Master of Business Administration, and Master of Science Degree in Technology Management at UMUC and received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Marketing at the University of Baltimore. Dr. Day is also an Adjunct Professor at Norwich University in Vermont, where she teaches Cyber security, Critical Infrastructure and Information Assurance courses to a myriad of students, worldwide, from across the intelligence community. A published author, Baltimore Ravens fan, and life-long learner, she enjoys writing, traveling, cooking, and most importantly, spending time with her family and friends.