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Study of Federal Employees Discovers Major
Work Force Shrinks but Number of Lawyers,
Investigators and Prison Guards Surges
Staffing Hits Some States Far Harder than
2Major changes have occurred in the make up of federal civilian
workers during the last quarter of a century, according to comprehensive
employment data obtained and analyzed by the Transactional Records
Access Clearinghouse (TRAC).
The analysis of data obtained by TRAC from the
Office of Personnel Management under the Freedom of Information Act
also showed that the national cut back in federal employees affected
some states far more than others. In terms of absolute numbers, a
few states actually gained employees, including Florida, North Carolina,
Arizona, Vermont and West Virginia which grew in raw numbers by 10
percent or more. In relation to population, the staffing declines
experienced by such states as California, New Jersey, New Hampshire
and Texas were substantially higher than the national average. Among
the small number of states ending up with more federal employees per
capita were West Virginia, Vermont and the District of Columbia. In
recent years, the states with the consistently lowest per capita number
of federal employees were Connecticut, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Among the key findings:
overall number of federal civilian employees declined by one third
in relation to the nation's population between 1975 and 2000.
the same period, the per capita number of government lawyers jumped
by more than half, criminal investigators working for the federal
agencies increased by more than a third, and employees in the federal
prison system tripled.
By contrast, air traffic controllers, highway
safety experts and food and safety inspectors substantially decreased
both in per capita terms and in actual counts. Government physicians
also declined in relation to the nation's growing population, although
the raw number of doctors was slightly higher than it was in 1975.
Extensive information about most of the civilian
employees of governmentwhere they work, what they do, how much
they are paid and much moreis available on TRAC's subscription
services, TRACFED and FEDPROBE.
The work performed by the government is influenced
by many factors such as changes in the laws and the development of
new technologies. But the basic occupational make up of the men and
women employed by the government is a driving force in determining
the kinds of work that the federal agencies can accomplish.
The substantial increase in government lawyers, investigators and
prison guardsin terms of both concrete
head counts and as a proportion of the total
work forcethus suggests a significant shift in the basic purpose
of the federal government since 1975. This shift in purposedictated
by the policies developed under six presidents and a series of Congresseswas
underlined by the declines in occupations directly linked to providing
services such as improving public health and assuring safe transportation.
(TRAC, associated with Syracuse University, is a
non-partisan organization established in 1989 to provide the American
people with comprehensive information about the operations of the
federal government. Its operations have been supported by the university
and a number of philanthropic organizations including the Knight Foundation,
the Rockefeller Family Fund, the Open Society Institute, the Beldon
Fund, and the New York Times Company Foundation.
Washington, D.C.: Suite 200, 1718 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., 20009
Tel. (202) 518-9000
Syracuse: 488 Newhouse II, Syracuse, NY 13244-2100
Tel. (315) 443-3563