Management & Labor

Jobs Report: Federal Government Employment Continues Steady Decline

The federal government has now recorded monthly job declines every month since last September.
by | November 8, 2013
The Pentagon, headquarters of the Department of Defense. DoD photo by Master Sgt. Ken Hammond, U.S. Air Force. Wikipedia
 

The Labor Department reported Friday that the federal government shed another 12,000 estimated positions last month, continuing a shrinking of the workforce that’s persisted for more than a year.

The federal government, excluding Postal Service employees, has now recorded monthly job declines every month since last September.

As a whole, federal payrolls haven’t experienced steep cuts, but rather steady losses compounding over time. Over the year, federal non-Postal Service employment has declined by about 3.5 percent. By comparison, state and local government employment isn’t budging at all – fluctuating less than half a percentage point since last October.

Those employees furloughed as a result of the partial government shutdown last month were still considered to be employed in the Labor Department’s payroll survey because they received pay for the period that included the 12th of the month.

Employment levels for the Defense Department – by far the largest federal agency – have inched down for about two years now. DoD employs about 1.4 million active-duty members and another 700,000 civilians nationwide. (See military employment by state)

As a share of the total workforce, the states with the highest concentrations of all federal employees are Hawaii (5.6 percent), Maryland (5.5 percent) and Virginia (4.6 percent). (See our data tool for employment estimates broken down for each state)

For local governments, the Labor Department reports employment levels remained essentially unchanged the past two months. Education employment has increased only slightly this year after recording significant declines nationally in 2010 and 2011, according to data.

Also in Friday’s jobs report, preliminary figures indicate state government employment climbed by 7,000 positions last month after an increase of 13,000 in September. Over the year, though, total payroll employment hasn’t expanded much. After steady cuts to payrolls in the aftermath of the recession, state government employment, excluding education, is about where it was this time last year.

The economy added an estimated 204,000 jobs in October, with notable increases in the leisure and hospitality, retail trade, professional and technical services and manufacturing sectors. The unemployment rate for the month was 7.3 percent.

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