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The number of federal employees is historically low.
The few, the proud, the government?   Just what is the deal with the size of the federal government?

Is less, more?   Does size even matter?

We're not here to address personal issues like whether size matters, we just want to give you an avenue to dig into the facts.  While some may want to focus on indicators like number of laws, the budget or the tax policy of the federal government, we thought we would start on a simpler note.  When you want to do more things you have to hire more people.  Below is a chart that outlines federal employment statistics over the past 60 years, so you can get focused on facts.

Read, Learn, Vote, Enjoy!

Data is from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) that go as far back as 1962 and up until 2010 (see link below)

(numbers in thousands)

Year Executive branch civilians (thousands) Uniformed military personnel (thousands) Legislative and judicial branch personnel (thousands) Total Federal personnel (thousands)
1962 2,485 2,840 30 5,354
1963 2 2,498 2,732 30 5,260
1964 2 2,470 2,719 31 5,220
1965 2,496 2,687 32 5,215
1966 2,726 3,129 33 5,888
1967 2,968 3,413 34 6,416
1968 3,020 3,584 35 6,639
1969 3 3,040 3,499 36 6,575
1970 4 2,944 3,104 38 6,085
1971 4 2,883 2,752 40 5,675
1972 2,823 2,360 42 5,225
1973 2,781 2,289 44 5,113
1974 2,847 2,198 46 5,091
1975 2,848 2,164 49 5,061
1976 2,833 2,119 50 5,002
1977 2,840 2,112 53 5,005
1978 2,875 2,099 55 5,028
1979 2,823 2,063 53 4,939
1980 4 2,821 2,090 55 4,965
1981 4 2,806 2,122 54 4,982
1982 2,770 2,147 55 4,972
1983 2,820 2,163 56 5,039
1984 2,854 2,178 56 5,088
1985 3,008 2,190 58 5,256
1986 2,966 2,206 55 5,228
1987 3,030 2,213 58 5,301
1988 3,054 2,176 59 5,289
1989 3,064 2,168 60 5,292
1990 4 3,067 2,106 61 5,234
1991 4 3,048 2,040 64 5,152
1992 3,017 1,848 66 4,931
1993 2,947 1,744 66 4,758
1994 2,908 1,648 63 4,620
1995 2,858 1,555 62 4,475
1996 2,786 1,507 61 4,354
1997 2,725 1,439 62 4,226
1998 2,727 1,407 62 4,196
1999 2,687 1,386 63 4,135
2000 4 2,639 1,426 63 4,129
2001 4 2,640 1,428 64 4,132
2002 2,630 1,456 66 4,152
2003 2,666 1,478 65 4,210
2004 2,650 1,473 64 4,187
2005 2,636 1,436 65 4,138
2006 2,637 1,432 63 4,133
2007 2,636 1,427 63 4,127
2008 2,692 1,450 64 4,206
2009 2,774 1,591 66 4,430
2010 4 2,776 1,602 64 4,443


Notes:
  1. Data comes from agency 113 monthly submissions and covers total end-of-year civilian employment of full-time permanent, temporary, part-time, and intermittent employees. Executive branch includes the Postal Service, and, beginning in 1970, includes various disadvantaged youth and worker-trainee programs. Uniformed Military Personnel data comes from the Department of Defense.Return to text
  2. Excludes 7,411 project employees in 1963 and 406 project employees in 1964 for the public works acceleration program.Return to Table
  3. On Jan. 1, 1969, 42,000 civilian technicians of the Army and Air Force National Guard converted by law from State to Federal employment status. They are included in the Federal employment figures in this table starting with 1969.Return to Table
  4. Includes temporary employees for the decennial census.Return to Table




OPM Table
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Voting Key


Fact = 100% - 92% True
Mostly Fact = 91% - 75% True
Slightly Fact = 74% - 60% True
Split = 59% - 50% True
Slightly Fiction = 49% - 30% True
Mostly Fiction = 29% - 10% True
Fiction = 9% - 0% True