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Gov Career

By Phil Piemonte

Blog archive

You already knew it: Feds are everywhere


Federally Employed Women, a non-profit organization whose name pretty much tells it all, also does some bean counting.

Human beans, that is.

Every few years or so, FEW—which advocates against workplace discrimination and for federal employment of women—goes through employment data from the Office of Personnel Management and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and then re-jiggers it to come up with its own data product.

The end result is called simply "Population of Federal Employees by Congressional District and County." The latest version, released this month, assembles statistics from 2012. And it makes for some interesting browsing.

For example, do you want some granular info about feds and federal retirees in the independent city of Fredericksburg, Va., in the state's First Congressional District?

Just go to FEW's online map, click on Virginia and scroll down to Fredericksburg. You'll see there were 972 federal employees in the city as of 2012, 587 of them federal retirees.

Caveat from FEW: Because of the way the source data was assembled, the employee data indicates where employees work, and the retiree data indicates where retirees live. FEW believes that outside the national capital area, most active employees live in the same district in which they work.

That noted, the site offers a pretty detailed breakdown. Of Fredericksburg's active federal employees, 37 worked for the departments of Defense or Homeland Security, 73 for Veterans Affairs, 16 for Treasury, 28 for Agriculture, four for Interior, five for Transportation, 44 for Commerce, two for Labor, and 21 for the Social Security Administration. Another 35 were postal employees, and 20 worked for other agencies.

The First District itself, which includes all or parts of more than a dozen counties along a long swathe of Tidewater Virginia, stretches from just southwest of the national capital all the way southeast to Newport News, and counts a total of 54,572 federal employees and retirees.

So why put this information together? Well, FEW uses the data to remind Washington lawmakers that their districts include significant numbers of federal employees.

"These statistics are very important to legislators and their staffs on Capitol Hill so that they will know how many federal workers and retirees are employed and live in their state and district," Janet Kopenhaver, FEW’s Washington representative, said in a statement announcing the latest update of the data.

"The most important fact is that every legislator has federal workers, retirees and postal workers employed and/or living in their district," she stated. "So the next time lawmakers say that federal workers are overpaid, wasteful and not productive, and that furloughs and/or layoffs should be implemented, let them remember that they are referring to their own constituents and their livelihoods."

The data also should remind federal employees that they can and should be a potent political force.

If you don't believe it, throw a dart at the map and look at a random example. We did, and came up with Worth County, Mo. We see that there are only 20 working feds and 25 federal retirees in Worth County, which is in the state's Sixth Congressional District, and that may not seem to be the picture of political might. But there are 32,754 of these federal folks altogether in the Sixth District, which represents a lot of letters to a member of Congress, if feds there were to decide to write those letters.

Moreover, as the FEW data show, 104,719 active feds and federal retirees worked and/or lived in Missouri as a whole—not a small group, were they to decide to become vocal.

So, if you feel like elected officials in Washington are picking on you, you're certainly not alone.

And maybe you should tell them so.

Posted by Phil Piemonte on Feb 15, 2013 at 4:02 PM


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