On Monday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order freezing all federal government hiring with the exception of the military.
In a press conference on Monday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that the hiring freeze was due to “dramatic expansion of the federal workforce in recent years.” Spicer later said that the increase in the size of the federal workforce has been a source of government waste in recent years.
The only problem with this reasoning is that the workforce of the federal government is roughly the same as when President Barack Obama took office and much lower than in decades past.
The non-military workforce was 2.80 million people according to the most recent jobs report from the Bureau of Labour Statistics (this number does include civilian employees in the Department of Defence). This is only slightly higher than the 2.79 million at the time when former President Barack Obama took office in January 2009.
Additionally, it is much lower than the 3.10 million federal employees in 1990.
Of note, the number does spike every 10 years as people are hired to assist with the US Census.
While a freeze on federal hiring may be a way to decrease federal spending, to say that the freeze was necessary due to a “dramatic expansion” in the government is misleading.