Build a Wall? What Do Federal Employees Want?

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By on January 9, 2019 in Leadership with 0 Comments
Border wall prototypes unveiled in San Diego

Photos Courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Taken by Yesica Uvina

What do federal employees think of building a wall along our southern border? While the topic is certainly at the forefront of headline news on a daily basis now, it is of particular interest to federal employees—many of whom are furloughed and will be as long as the dispute continues.

FedSmith recently asked readers for their opinion on the issue of building a border wall. Most of those responding to the survey are current federal employees (80.14%) or federal retirees (17.81%). Most identified as Independent voters (41.87%) and a slight majority voted for President Trump in the last election (41.87%) while 37.59% voted for Hillary Clinton. 20.55% voted for another candidate or, presumably, did not vote.

Overall Survey Results

1,128 people responded to the survey, most of whom are federal employees or retirees. Here are the overall results:

Do you support building a border wall?

  • Yes: 47.35%
  • No: 52.65%

Do you support a partial government shutdown as a means to get a wall built?

  • Yes: 36.73
  • No: 63.27%

Were you furloughed by the recent partial government shutdown?

  • Yes: 34.76%
  • No: 65.24%

What is your status as a federal employee with respect to shutdown furloughs?

  • Excepted – I have to continue to work – 43.07%
  • Non-excepted – I am subject to furlough – 29.37%
  • None of the above – 27.57%

What is your political affiliation?

  • Independent – 41.87%
  • Democrat – 23.37%
  • Republican – 26.03%
  • Other – 8.73%

Results from Furloughed Federal Employees

What about federal employees who are furloughed? How do their views compare to the overall result of the survey?

Do you support building a border wall?

  • Yes: 48.52%
  • No: 51.48%

Do you support a partial government shutdown as a means to get a wall built?

  • Yes: 35.47%
  • No: 64.53%

What is your political affiliation?

  • Independent – 39.66%
  • Democrat – 25.62%
  • Republican – 24.38%
  • Other – 10.34%


No one can reliably predict how long the partial government shutdown will last. Those federal employees who are furloughed are likely to have the largest immediate financial impact even if they ultimately get paid for the time they were not at work.

For those seeking more information, a number of readers also submitted comments on this topic in the original article announcing the survey.

© 2020 Ralph R. Smith. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Ralph R. Smith.


About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47