NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Downsizing the Federal Government?

September 8, 1998

Private-sector employees have long faced the prospect they could be "downsized" out of their jobs, while government employees have enjoyed near total immunity from such occurrences. But that is changing somewhat.

  • Since 1993, the federal government has cut 337,182 jobs -- with the Defense Department leading the list at 241,798 positions lost.
  • In the Washington, D.C., area, where 15 percent of the government's work force resides, federal employment has declined gradually from 351,200 in 1996 to 337,600 this year -- a reduction of about 2 percent a year.
  • But even that modest reduction is deceptive, analysts note, because employment at companies contracting with the federal government have swollen and some former federal employees have simply switched to performing government work under private banners.
  • The Commerce Department -- a top candidate for total elimination among Republican budget-cutters -- has even managed to eke out a 1 percent gain in employees since President Clinton took office.

Government employees more or less agree their benefits are greater than those of private-sector workers and the hours are not as long. Last month, President Clinton granted federal workers an unusually large 8 percent pay raise over the remaining two years of his term.

Source: Stephan Dinan, "Federal Employees Face Downsizing," Washington Times, September 8, 1998.]


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