EEO is only growth field in human resources

There are nearly 20 percent fewer human resources professionals in the federal government today than in 1991, the Office of Personnel Management found in a study released Monday. The only growth field in federal human resources is equal employment opportunity (EEO), OPM found.

More than one in four federal human resources specialists is an EEO specialist, OPM reported in the new study, Federal Human Resources Employment Trends. While every other category of HR specialty, from labor relations to employee development to classification, has been downsized, the EEO field grew 7 percent from 1991 to 1998.

Downsizing has hit the HR field hard, OPM said. While employment in HR offices across government has been cut by 17.5 percent since 1991, procurement offices have downsized 13 percent and budget offices just four percent.

"Small wonder there is concern about whether HR has the capacity left to fulfill its old responsibilities and take on new ones," the report said.

The report is the first in a three-part series scheduled for release by the end of the fiscal year. The second part will look at the skills HR professionals have and need. The third will analyze the results of the studies.

OPM also noted a trend away from specialization. Agencies are hiring more people who can handle a wide variety of HR tasks. While the number of HR specialists has plummeted by almost 30 percent in the past seven years, the number of HR generalists has declined by only 2.7 percent.

Women now dominate the federal personnel world, OPM discovered. Almost three-fourths (71 percent) of federal HR professionals are female now, compared to 30 percent in 1969. Minority employees have also made gains, now accounting for 37 percent of HR professionals, compared to 15 percent in 1976. Seventy percent of EEO specialists are minorities.

"During the 1990s, there has been substantial change in the size and makeup of the federal HR profession," OPM concluded.

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