Congress and federal agencies last year destroyed 19,100 federal jobs through arbitrary budget cuts and hiring freezes. According to new numbers released this week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 2,141,300 non-postal federal employees in December 2013, compared with 2,122,200 in December 2014. This is on top of the 69,500 jobs they purged in 2013 and 28,000 in 2011 and 2012.
Efforts by extremist lawmakers and their corporate sponsors to cut federal programs in order to preserve corporate entitlement programs and low corporate taxes have led to a misinformation campaign against federal employees and their jobs. It is very misleading to look at the size of the federal workforce without comparing it to the size of the population it serves because there’s a big difference between 100 federal employees serving 1,000 residents and 100 federal employees serving 100,000 residents. Since the 1960s, the U.S. population rose by 65%, but the federal workforce went up only 9%. The number of workers employed by the federal government is currently at an all-time low – only 1.94% of the total U.S. workforce. The last time the number was this low was in the Eisenhower administration.
When anti-government lawmakers talk about cutting the already underfunded and understaffed federal workforce, it’s important to ask who they want to cut. Do they want to get rid of employees who care for our veterans, inspect foods, keep air and water clean, forecast tornadoes, rescue victims of natural disasters, design safe roads and bridges, find a cure to deadly diseases, conduct research on energy efficiency, keep air travel safe, protect communities from criminals, analyze security and financial risks, advance science to drive further economic growth, protect people against discrimination in employment, ensure workplace safety and security, manage defense contracts worth billions of dollars, etc?
Federal employees protect Americans’ freedom to lead a decent private life without having to worry about basic necessities such as safe food and infrastructure. All businesses depend on the government to provide public resources. Without the work these federal employees do, there would be no functioning business community in America. No business can or is willing to build a highway with their tax refund, for example. Government research funded by taxpayer money created the Internet, the first satellite navigation system, the chips in cellphones, and many other scientific and technological advances. A decline in the federal workforce and budget has meant a decline in our nation’s security, progress, prosperity, and every American’s freedom to lead a decent private life.