Fedweek

The incoming Trump administration’s plan to generally freeze federal hiring has turned attention to federal turnover. Federal employment data are presented in several ways, with one commonly used figure of about 2.07 million representing a total head count, and another of about 1.85 million excluding temporary, part-time and seasonal employees (both counts exclude the independent Postal Service). Out of the larger number, turnover in recent years has run at about 200,000 per year. That includes, on average, about 75,000 who quit their jobs (excluding about another 20,000 who transfer to other agencies) and about 65,000 who retire. Almost all the rest are fired, commonly during their probationary periods when they have few appeal rights, or are temporary employees whose appointments are not renewed when they expire. Fewer than 1,000 are laid off each year and the government also counts deaths—about 3,000 a year—as “separations.” Retirements commonly surge around the turn of the year for several reasons, some of them having to do with maximizing the payout value of unused annual leave. That has raised the prospect that a Trump-imposed hiring freeze might, as did the Reagan freeze, start by eliminating positions that already are vacant, since many of those retirees will not have been replaced by the start of the new administration.