0.6% Decrease in Federal Employment in 2017

How have federal employment numbers fared under the first year of the Trump administration? Recent BLS data show a small net decline as of the end of 2017.

Despite initial fears that the Trump presidency would immediately cause large reductions in Federal employment, and despite the administration’s failure to fill many higher-level jobs, 2017 saw only a small net reduction in the number of Federal employees.

After the first year of the Trump presidency, employment in the Federal sector stood at 2.819 million in December 2017, a loss of 18,000 jobs (-0.6%) over the year, according to preliminary information released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Job losses in 2017 would have been larger if not for the Department of Defense, which added 3,300 civilians to its payroll. At the end of 2017, DoD employed 532,900 civilian workers or about 19% of the entire Federal workforce.

About half of the net job loss can be attributed to the U.S. Postal Service, which acts as an independent agency within the Federal government. USPS reported a loss of 9,400 jobs in 2017, its first year of net employment losses after three years of additions.

Excluding USPS from the overall numbers, the Federal government employed 2.190 million workers at the end of 2017, a decline of 9,000 (-0.4%) from 2016. In 2010, the Federal government employed 2.215 million workers, excluding USPS.

The loss of 9,000 jobs in 2017 represented the first year that Federal employment had dropped since 2013. Between 2014 and 2016, the Federal government (excluding USPS) grew by nearly 55,000 employees.

About the Author

Michael Wald is a public affairs consultant and writer based in the Atlanta area. He specializes in topics related to government and labor issues. Prior to his retirement from the U.S. Department of Labor, he served as the agency’s Southeast Regional Director of Public Affairs and Southeast Regional Economist.