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Federal Employees: Myths vs. Facts

Myth: The majority of Americans want to cut federal spending at any cost.
Fact: Americans do not want to sacrifice vital services that impact the health, safety and well-being of their families and believe the government should increase its investment on these priorities.

  • ScissorsA recent survey found that a majority of respondents believe the government should invest more, not less, on resources and manpower for critical public services such as:
    • Food safety: 69 percent said invest more
    • Border Security: 72 percent said invest more
    • Veterans assistance: 86 percent said invest more
    • Nuclear safety: 58 percent said invest more
    • Medical device safety: 66 percent said invest more
  • And, 67 percent said the wealthiest should pay more in taxes before vital public services are cut.

Myth: Cutting the federal workforce by 10 percent will not affect me or my family.
canineFact: Federal workforce cuts would weaken our nation, and the American people will suffer as there will be:

  • fewer food inspections,
  • less border security and drug interdiction,
  • fewer people to monitor the quality of our air and water,
  • fewer employees monitoring nuclear power plants and materials,
  • fewer people protecting consumers in financial markets
  • and fewer employees collecting the revenue that fund all these other vital services.

Non-defense discretionary spending, which funds most federal agencies, accounts for less than a fifth of the federal budget. Cutting federal employees will have a big negative impact on public services, and a relatively minor impact on reducing federal spending.

Myth: There are more federal employees per capita than at any time in our nation’s history.
Fact: The federal workforce is virtually as small today as it has ever been in the modern era. In 1953, the federal government employed one worker for every 78 residents. In 2009, one worker was employed for every 147 residents.*

  • In the IRS today, there are 20,000 fewer employees than there were in 1995, processing 236 million more complicated tax returns. And, in the Department of Health and Human Services Medicare and Medicaid staff, there are 7 percent fewer employees serving 64 percent more enrollees.
  • Most growth in the number of federal workers has been in Homeland Security and Defense as a result of 9/11. From 2001 to 2010, employment in non-security federal agencies as a percent of population actually fell by 4 percent.*

*Office of Management and Budget, Budget FY 2012, February 2011.

taxesMyth: Most Americans oppose tax increases of any kind.

Fact: The survey found that nearly eight out of 10 Americans believe that wealthy Americans should pay their fair share towards economic recovery. In fact, the majority of survey respondents, nearly 70 percent, believe that the wealthiest Americans should pay more in taxes rather than cutting essential government services.

Myth: The vast majority of federal employees are based in Washington, D.C. Therefore, cutting federal jobs won’t affect my state.
Fact: Only 15 percent of federal employees work in the Washington, DC, metro area. Cutting federal workers will have a negative impact on the economy of every state.

U.S. map

There are large populations of federal employees in Texas, California, North Carolina, New York, Alabama, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, etc. In fact, there is not a single state without thousands of federal employees living there.

testtubeMyth: The federal workforce consists mostly of bureaucratic “paper pushers.”
Fact: Over 93 percent of federal employee jobs are non-clerical positions. The federal workforce is a highly-educated and skilled workforce, including doctors, attorneys, scientists, IT specialists, CPAs, engineers, and other highly trained experts in virtually every discipline. Nearly 50 percent have a bachelor’s or higher degree. About 21 percent have professional degree or doctorate versus compared to only 9 percent in the private sector.

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