President Obama’s $4.1 trillion fiscal 2017 budget proposal released Tuesday would add 30,700 jobs to the federal civilian workforce, marking a 1.5 percent increase over estimated employment levels this year. That is just slightly lower than the 1.6 percent increase Obama requested in the fiscal 2016 budget.
The biggest percentage increase in fiscal 2017 would take place at the Securities and Exchange Commission. Obama proposed adding 300 positions there, representing a 6.5 percent increase in the agency’s relatively small staff. The administration is bolstering the SEC to meet its Wall Street oversight responsibilities under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act.
“Our nation’s financial regulators must be able to supervise and regulate Wall Street, and doing so requires resources,” said Jeffrey Zients, director of the National Economic Council and assistant to the president for economic policy, in a blog post Monday. “For years, Congress has fallen short when it comes to providing the appropriate resources to the agencies tasked with keeping investors, markets, and consumers safe.”
The Veterans Affairs, Education and Labor Departments also are slated for relatively large staff increases under Obama’s proposal. VA would receive 16,700 more full-time employees, an increase of 4.8 percent over estimated fiscal 2016 staff levels. In addition to extra medical care staff, the department would hire 300 full-time equivalent employees dedicated to reducing the backlog of applications for benefits other than disability claims (which have received the lion’s share of attention).
The Education and Labor Departments would each see 4.7 percent growth in their workforces. Labor would add about 800 full-time positions, including 318 in the Wage and Hour division “to continue positive momentum towards building a stronger and more effective [labor law] enforcement program.”
The Defense Department is the only large agency whose civilian workforce would shrink in fiscal 2017 under Obama’s proposal. The department would lose 5,200 civilians, for a 0.7 percent reduction in its workforce. Its total projected number of civilians under the fiscal 2017 proposal is 732,900. The Pentagon is pursuing a plan to cut headquarters staff by 25 percent from 2017-2020.
The chart below shows the number of full-time employees each major agency would gain (or lose) under President Obama’s fiscal 2017 budget request.