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Federal Agencies Shed Nearly 20,000 Jobs in 2014

Job loss is actually an improvement on the previous year.

Despite minimal job loss to round out the year, federal agencies shed a net of 19,000 positions in 2014, according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The federal government, excluding the U.S. Postal Service, employed 900 fewer people in December than November, while USPS added 1,800 jobs in the month. Non-postal agencies employed a total of 2.12 million people at the end of 2014, while the Postal Service employed just less than 600,000. USPS has begun each year with fewer employees than in the one immediately prior for 15 consecutive years, according to agency figures, but BLS data show the agency actually netted 3,000 jobs in 2014.

The 19,000 job cuts at non-postal agencies is actually a significant improvement over 2013, when agencies shed four times that number. The improvement is likely a result of agencies slowly cutting back on attrition measures and restarting the hiring process as the budget deal partially rolling back sequestration went into effect. In 2013, many federal offices were forced to institute hiring freezes as budgets were slashed across the board.

The two-year budget plan remains in effect through September, allowing most agencies to continue to stabilize their workforces. Others, however, such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Internal Revenue Service, will have to cut their rolls in fiscal 2015 due to diminished appropriations.

Come Oct. 1, all agencies might once again have to find savings in a hurry, as full sequestration is scheduled to kick back in. Republicans in the new Congress have already introduced legislation to trim agency spending across the board.

The GOP caucus has demonstrated an appetite for downsizing the federal workforce through attrition, which means hiring fewer employees to replace those who leave government. Former House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, R-Wis., has proposed cutting the workforce by 10 percent through attrition. Ryan co-authored the 2014-2015 budget blueprint, but it did not include any mandates for federal workforce reductions.

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