Economic Snapshot | Economic Growth

Shrinking public service

Snapshot for December 11, 2002.

Shrinking public service

The Bush Administration has announced plans to go forward with extensive contracting out of work currently done by Federal civil service employees. One might get the impression that there is a problem with a ballooning Federal workforce. But this chart shows that Federal employment-especially the civilian component-has steadily diminished as a share of total employment over the past forty years.


In 2001, total Federal military and civilian employment, measured in terms of “full time equivalents,” was 4.1 million. In contrast, Director Paul Light of the Washington-based Center for Public Service estimates that 5.7 million people currently work for companies under contract from the Federal government. If the intention is to shrink the size of the public sector, contracting out is a dubious approach.

This week’s Snapshot by EPI economist Max B. Sawicky.

Check out the archive for past Economic Snapshots.

Preferred Citation: Economic Policy Institute, “Economic Snapshots, [insert date].” Washington, D.C.: Economic Policy Institute, 2002.

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