The Trump administration has shed nearly 11,000 federal employees during its first six months, reversing a two year trend of gains throughout the executive branch.
A July jobs report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Friday showed non-postal federal agencies employed 2,188,900 workers at the end of the month, down 2,200 from June and 10,700 from January, when Trump took office. President Trump has prioritized shrinking the civilian workforce, issuing an executive order -- and follow up guidance through the Office of Management and Budget -- calling on agencies to develop short and long-term strategies to cut employees. Agencies turned in preliminary drafts for those plans on June 30, which also required leaders to spell out what steps they have already taken to trim their rolls.
Not since 2013 have federal agencies slashed jobs on such a large scale. That was when sequestration, triggered by the 2011 Budget Control Act, forced agencies to take drastic measures to cut costs. Agencies shed nearly 57,000 jobs that year, the largest drop off in any single year since 1997. The federal government began making net hiring gains again in mid 2014, and added nearly 50,000 employees in 2015 and 2016 combined.
Trump’s comparatively small purge is unusual among his immediate predecessors; President Obama added 60,000 federal workers in his first six months in office, while President George W. Bush increased the rolls by more than 36,000.
In the coming months, OMB will evaluate and ultimately approve agency plans to slash their workforces. The final proposals are due by Sept. 30 and will be included in the administration’s fiscal 2019 budget proposal. In the meantime, some agencies are already using separation incentives to push employees out the door. Trump’s fiscal 2018 blueprint called for a net reduction of only 1,000 civil servants, as job losses at most agencies were set to be mostly offset by gains at the Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs departments.