Saturday, December 10, 2011

Pop Quiz: "Are there more or fewer Federal Government employees today as compared to 1970?". The answer WILL surprise you...

In my last post, I showed a graph of the trend in government employment since 1970.  That graph showed employment at ALL levels of government---Federal, State and Local.  Got me to thinking...
Has employment at the Federal level increased dramatically, as many would assume? Even if it has in the short run, what has Federal employment been historically?

The graph below shows on the Left scale: the BLUE line (ALL Government employment) and the GOLD line (ONLY Federal employment/employees.  The difference between these two lines will be the number of State and Local government employees. Add 3 zeroes to the numbers you see there, indicating millions of employees.

On the Right scale, the RED line is population growth since 1970. Add 3 zeroes to the number you see there, indicating millions of people.

FRED Graph

When you look at the GOLD line, factor out the jumps you see at the beginning of every decade---that is when significant part-time employment increases to do the Constitutionally required census.

Are you surprised that the Federal employment line is virtually flat over 30 years? 

Let's look at the same graph, but now in an index form so we can see percentage-wise how these three measurements have changed relative to each other.

FRED Graph

Using 1970 as a base year (Index = 100), we can see that Federal employment is about the same after 40 years! If you take the difference between the RED line and the BLUE line you can see State and Local employment has increased significantly as a proportion of government employment overall.  In other words, there does not appear to be a major shift in employment at the Federal level but certainly lots of growth at the State and Local level. 

US population has increased approx 53%, Federal employment has remained about the same, and State and Local government employment has increased approx 77%. 

The sheer number of Federal "bureaucrats" has not varied much over time.  However, this says nothing about the power of EACH (on average) of those Federal employees. 

I think people mix up the two---IF in peoples minds the Federal govt has become more powerful it is because of reasons OTHER than the sheer number of employees wielding influence. 
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