The Trump Administration's Hiring Freeze Will Impact These People the Most

January 23rd 2017

President Donald Trump on Monday made good on an October campaign promise, implementing a hiring freeze of all vacant federal government positions "except for the military, public safety and public health."

The move will disproportionately impact women, minorities and veterans — all of whom find a greater share of federal employment than in the private sector.

The freeze will counter “the dramatic expansion of the federal workforce in recent years,” claimed Trump Press Secretary Sean Spicer during his Monday press conference.

However, federal employment has gone up by only 2.9 percent in the last three years, with the total number of employees almost unchanged during the Obama years, according to data on the Washington Post's Wonkblog. And as a share of the total workforce, the government is as small as it's been since World War II.

"President Trump is a businessman, but this is not a smart way to run a business, and it's definitely not a smart way to run a government," J. David Cox, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, told ATTN:.

As the head of the largest federal employee union in the country, Cox is concerned about the ability of agencies around the country to do their appointed jobs if retiring or removed employees aren't replaced. "You'll have people leaving, and you need people to provide government services," Cox added.

In 2015, about 35 percent of all Executive Branch employees were non-white and roughly 43 percent were women, according to data from the Office of Personnel Management.

"The federal government employs higher numbers of minorities and veterans [than the private sector], and both of those groups will be harmed in a freeze," Cox told ATTN:. "We are all over the country, not just in Washington, and the effect will show up very quickly."

A 1982 General Accounting Office study that looked into the results of two previous hiring freezes wasn't complementary. "Government-wide hiring freezes have not been an effective means of controlling Federal Employment," the study concluded. It presented an "illusion of control on Federal spending" and ultimately cost the government more money while disrupting key agency operations.

And it's likely that this could have a deeply disrupting effect on major government agencies, many of whom desperately need more staffing.

The Social Security Administration's staff has dropped by 6 percent with more applicants than ever needing its services as baby boomers retire, according to a study from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). 

Likewise, the CBPP study shows that the total number of IRS employees has fallen by 14 percent since 2010. 

When the federal government stops hiring full-time employees, it hires more contractors, which bloats out the federal payroll more than regular hiring. And the agencies that Trump has pledged not to touch make up well over half of the civilian federal payroll.

With all this mind, it's not clear what exactly Trump's hiring freeze will accomplish, other than keeping his voters happy. It won't effect the federal budget, but it will hurt veterans and minorities while impacting the basic services provided by these agencies.

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