Federal Jobs on the Decline in Last 20 Years

By on September 15, 2011 in Current Events with 11 Comments

The National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) has compiled a list of gains/losses of federal jobs by state since 1990. In general, the figures show that the overall number of jobs in each state has declined. The numbers are compiled from US Census data.

So why the decline? There are a couple of possibilities.

In the 1990s under Clinton, the federal workforce declined. Clinton pledged to reduce the size of the federal workforce by at least 100,000 by the end of 1995, largely through attrition.

Another causal factor: an increase in government contract work. During the 1990s, the government saw an increasing trend towards contracting out more work rather than hiring or utilizing federal employees which undoubtedly had the effect over time of shrinking the federal workforce. One argument in favor of the increased contract labor is that it can be difficult to fire non-performing federal employees, whereas contractors can replace a problem employee more quickly and easily than a federal employee can be removed. However, many would disagree with this notion and there are certainly examples of how removing an employee can be done.

If an increase in contract labor has indeed contributed to lowering the number of full-time federal employees, it is somewhat ironic then that a recent study found that the government pays more in contract labor than keeping the work in-house.

Whatever the cause for the generally trending lower numbers, you can see a breakdown of the number of federal jobs in each state and how they have fared in the last 20 years in the table below.

State

Fed jobs in 1990

Fed jobs in 2000

Fed jobs in
Feb 2011

# Fed jobs
2011 vs 1990

Dist. of Columbia                

212,031

180,969

45,809

-166,222

Tennessee                         

56,416

50,393

39,248

-17,168

Pennsylvania                     

129,405

106,741

97,534

-31,871

Wyoming            

6,188

6,078

7,540

-1,352

New Jersey                        

75,142

62,272

53,631

-21,511

Missouri                          

65,541

54,546

50,869

-14,672

Massachusetts                     

60,319

52,987

45,519

-14,800

Maine                             

16,823

13,399

14,028

-2,797

New York                         

152,169

133,741

111,611

-40,588

California                        

314,590

247,839

238,548

-76,042

Connecticut                       

23,615

20,939

16,937

-6,678

Illinois                          

103,999

93,902

80,449

-23,550

Alabama

56,622

48,409

49,348

-7,274

Ohio                              

90,861

83,970

74,843

-16,018

Louisiana                          

33,921

33,132

28,046

-5,875

South Carolina                    

32,208

26,227

27,966

-4,242

Indiana                           

41,377

37,104

36,041

-5,336

Iowa                              

17,973

18,476

15,800

-2,173

Michigan                          

56,172

57,611

50,062

-6,110

Rhode Island                      

10,147

10,504

9,561

-586

Colorado                          

53,469

50,924

50,719

-2,750

Nebraska                           

15,298

15,145

14,428

-870

Kentucky                          

35,454

30,260

33,471

-1,983

Utah                              

36,001

29,605

34,803

-1,198

Kansas                            

24,719

25,223

23,624

-1,095

Minnesota                         

32,014

34,090

30,102

-1,912

Mississippi                       

24,354

24,047

23,321

-1,033

New Hampshire                      

8,054

7,800

7,719

-335

Oregon                            

29,202

28,556

28,378

-824

Wisconsin                         

27,425

29,752

26,453

-972

Arkansas                  

19,218

20,107

19,242

24

Oklahoma                          

45,298

43,369

45,382

84

Texas                            

176,680

162,399

177,923

1,243

Delaware                           

5,300

5,367

5,382

82

North Dakota                       

7,815

7,772

8,003

188

Florida                          

111,851

113,267

121,154

9,303

Washington                        

65,033

62,004

69,647

4,614

Georgia                           

88,366

88,982

95,522

7,156

Virginia                         

161,047

144,632

169,284

8,600

Vermont                            

5,072

5,779

5,786

714

Alaska              

14,537

13,997

15,454

917

North Carolina                    

46,463

56,558

58,890

12,427

South Dakota                       

9,296

9,542

10,433

1,137

Idaho                             

10,057

10,741

12,601

2,544

Hawaii                            

25,414

23,251

27,690

2,276

Maryland                         

133,187

130,147

143,536

10,349

Nevada                            

10,547

13,383

15,526

4,979

Arizona                     

38,985

43,479

51,420

12,435

New Mexico                         

26,242

25,357

30,597

4,355

West Virginia                     

15,377

18,409

19,465

4,088

Montana                           

11,364

11,165

13,805

2,441

TOTAL

2,906,416

2,624,348

2,701,952

-204,464

© 2016 Ian Smith. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Ian Smith.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce. Ian also has a background in web development and does the technical work for the FedSmith.com web site and its sibling sites.

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