Employment Levels Held about Steady in 2017

OPM data show a slight decrease in federal employment in fiscal 2017, although down to a level that still is the second-largest in the last five years.

Newly posted figures shows a September 2017 employment total of 2,087,747, down from 2,096,258 12 months before. In the prior three years, employment had been in the range of 2,045,000 to 2,071,000.

The figures are a headcount and include part-time, temporary and seasonal employees, although they exclude intelligence agencies and the USPS, which is self funding. Other government employment data that are commonly cited report in terms of full-time equivalent positions.

Most of the roughly 8,500 decrease came from non-permanent positions even though they account for only about 7 percent of the total; they fell by about 5,400 to about 140,200.

Employment levels during 2017 largely reflect budgetary decisions made in the last year of the Obama administration, although the partial hiring freeze the Trump administration imposed in January, and agency-imposed restrictions on hiring that followed the lifting of that freeze in April also play a role.

OPM has not yet released complete fiscal 2017 separation and hiring figures but the partial-year figures show that those continued at about prior rates, as well.