Skip to comments.Leviathan (Uncle Sam employs more people than you think)
Posted on 02/03/2011 7:22:14 AM PST by SeekAndFind
How many Americans work in government? Thats a difficult question to answer. Officially, as of 2009, the federal government employed 2.8 million individuals out of a total U.S. workforce of 236 million just over 1 percent of the workforce. But its not quite as simple as that. Add in uniformed military personnel, and the figure goes up to just under 4.4 million. There are also 66,000 people who work in the legislative branch and for federal courts. That makes the figure around 2 percent of the workforce.
Yet even that doesnt tell the full story. A lot of government work is done by contractors or grantees from arms manufacturers to local charities, from environmental-advocacy groups to university researchers. A lot of the work they do is funded nearly entirely by taxpayers, so they should count as part of the federal government. Unfortunately, we cant ask the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) how many government contractors and grantees there are. They dont keep such records.
Instead, we can ask Prof. Paul Light of New York University, who has estimated the size of these shadowy branches of government. As he points out, while there are many good reasons for the government to use contractors (should the feds really be in the business of making dentures for veterans, as they were until the 1950s?), the use of contracts and grants also hides the true size of government:
[The federal government] uses contracts, grants, and mandates to state and local governments to hide its true size, thereby creating the illusion that it is smaller than it actually is, and give its departments and agencies much greater flexibility in hiring labor, thereby creating the illusion that the civil-service system is somehow working effectively.
OPMs failure to keep records of the number of quasi-governmental employees indicates a lack of accountability, as Professor Light says:
Contractors and grantees do not keep count of their employees, in part because doing so would allow the federal government# #to estimate actual labor costs.
Nevertheless, Professor Light was able to come up with some useful estimates by using the federal governments procurement database. When he added up all the numbers, he found that the true size of the federal government was about 11 million: 1.8 million civil servants, 870,000 postal workers, 1.4 million military personnel, 4.4 million contractors, and 2.5 million grantees.
However, this turned out to be a low-water mark. Over the next few years, even before 9/11, the true size of government increased significantly, almost all in the shadow sector. By 2005, the federal government employed 14.6 million people: 1.9 million civil servants, 770,000 postal workers, 1.44 million uniformed service personnel, 7.6 million contractors, and 2.9 million grantees. This amounted to a ratio of five and a half shadow government employees for every civil servant on the federal payroll. Since 1999, the government had grown by over 4.5 million employees.
Professor Lights figures are from 2006, but there can be little doubt that the size of the federal government has increased still further since. There are those new contractors and grantees working on stimulus projects to add. Then there are the employees of bailed-out and partially nationalized firms: General Motors (still owned in large part by the government despite the sale of stock in November 2010), AIG, and a large number of banks. GM alone employs 300,000 people. In addition, government has increased its mandates and general spending.
All of which suggests a significant expansion in shadow government employment since 2005. Even if it grew at the same rate as it did between 1999 and 2005 (a conservative assumption), that would suggest a further 4.7 million employees dependent on taxpayer funding since 2005, bringing the total true size of the federal government to just under 20 million employees.
Yet the federal government isnt all. Despite its huge budgets, state and local governments dwarf Washington in direct employment. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 3.8 million full-time and 1.5 million part-time employees on state payrolls. Local governments add a further 11 million full-time and 3.2 million part-time personnel. This means that state and local governments combined employ 19.5 million Americans.
When we add up the true size of the federal workforce civil servants, postal workers, military personnel, contractors, grantees, and bailed-out businesses and add in state- and local-government employees civil servants, teachers, firefighters, and police officers we reach the astonishing figure of nearly 40 million Americans employed in some way by government. That means that about 17 percent of the American labor pool one in every six workers owes its living to the taxpayer.
Iain Murray is vice president for strategy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C.
I’d be interested in knowing how many natives we employ in foreign countries. I suspect the number is considerable.
Shouldn’t we also consider adding people on welfare and people in prisons, all of whom are living on the taxpayer’s dime?
BTW, this percentage used to be much lower, like closer to two percent; and no one except the looters can see anything they get from the government now that they wouldn't have gotten then.
I am a Contractor myself-- who helps the government oversee actual Development and operations maintenance contracts. In the case of the Lockheed programs that I helped oversee, the Contractor regularly reported their end strength on contract. And I am sure that my own program* also reported its end strength.
* A Systems Engnr. Tech. Adivsor (SETA) Contract
A big percentage of them live in the 2 Maryland counties bordering Washington, DC. They allow the Maryland to have all kinds of anti-business, socialist legislation without having the state go bankrupt.
The civilian labor force is actually 154 million.
When we add up the true size of the federal workforce civil servants, postal workers, military personnel, contractors, grantees, and bailed-out businesses and add in state- and local-government employees civil servants, teachers, firefighters, and police officers we reach the astonishing figure of nearly 40 million Americans employed in some way by government.
40 million out of almost 140 million employed.
That means that about 17 percent of the American labor pool one in every six workers owes its living to the taxpayer.
More like 28% of workers, if his numbers are correct.
Now, add in state, county, and local governments.
Then add welfare recipients.
Add in those recieving Social Security as well.
Where are we now? One in 5? One in 4?
How much of a burden can each productive citizen actually support?
More like 28% of workers, if his numbers are correct.
Yes, I was surprised that this writer seems to conclude that there are about 240 million ‘workers’ in the US. That leaves only 60 million children, elderly, disabled, unemployed, slackers, etc.
“Leviathan”? When I saw the title, I thought the article was about Michelle!
The rate is disproportionate. Many states have rates that are way higher. New Mexico’s government employment rate is over 50%.