Federal Employees News Digest

Covid: Fewer hires than expected

As COVID hit the country last year, the nation’s states and cities began to shut down—but meanwhile of course multiple crisis-management federal agencies geared up. 

So, whether you judge the federal reaction adequate—or not—you could be forgiven for guessing the government grew significantly to manage the coronavirus. But you’d be wrong.

In fact, the pace of overall federal hiring—while it did surge at science and health agencies under temporary, special pandemic authorities—actually clocked in lower in 2020 than 2019, according to a June 2 report in the Federal Times.

You read that right. According to the piece, sourced from Office of Personnel Management employee data and other material, the federal workforce grew by over 34,000 last year, on its face a significant number. But the workforce grew by quite a bit more—about 40,000—during the previous, non-COVID, year of 2019. To some observers, the relatively modest growth during such a massive national emergency seems as we had last year seems surprisingly low.

Moreover, as the report further documents, much of the past year’s modest increase in the aggregate number of federal employees owes more to lower-than-usual rates of retirements and separations, rather than to any unusual spike in agency hiring.

2021 Digital Almanac

Stay Connected

Latest Forum Posts

Ask the Expert

Have a question regarding your federal employee benefits or retirement?

Submit a question