Implemented in August, Air Force Personnel Center officials used the freeze to reduce workforce numbers to 2010 levels. As part of that effort, the Air Force also offered early retirements and buyouts to roughly 6,000 civilian employees in September.
The service has cut nearly 9,000 positions since the spring, but still needs to eliminate 4,500 more to reach its goal.
A second round of buyouts and early outs is anticipated in January 2012, Michelle LoweSolis, AFPC civilian force integration director, said in an announcement on the Air Force website.
"We have made significant progress in reducing manning levels through various programs," LoweSolis said. "But in some areas we are still short of the goal, so the freeze was extended in those targeted areas to help us work toward that end. Even with the hiring freeze being lifted Dec. 15, budget and funding issues are still fluid, so major command and wing leaders must be alert to changing conditions as they'll have the responsibility to control hiring to stay below targeted levels."