† Sources: US Census Bureau, Bureau of Economic Analysis
††We limited the data in this table to the years presented to provide the most recent data but to also fit the table to the page. Additional years of data and more detail may be found on our website. Click “More detail” to access it.
1 Civilian military employees are included in national defense and international relations.
2 Active duty military are as of September of each year, reserves are not included.
3 At the federal level, social insurance administration employees are primarily those responsible for administering Social Security and Medicare and therefore have been allocated to “Secure the Blessings of Liberty to Ourselves and Our Posterity.” State and local social insurance administration employees administer unemployment and job services and therefore are allocated to “Promote the General Welfare.”
4Federal employees are as of March of 2014, the latest date available.
For 2020, 38% of government employees were represented by unions, including 30% of federal government employees, 34% of state government employees, and 45% of local government employees.30
Talented employees are critical to the success of our Government, and the market for talented employees is competitive. The Government Accountability Office has found that mission-critical skills gaps within the federal workforce pose a high risk to the nation. Regardless of whether the shortfalls are in such government-wide occupations as cybersecurity and acquisitions, or in agency-specific occupations such as nurses at the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), skills gaps impede the federal government from cost-effectively serving the public and achieving results. Agencies can have skills gaps for different reasons: they may have an insufficient number of people or their people may not have the appropriate skills or abilities to accomplish mission-critical work. Moreover, current budget and long-term fiscal pressures, the changing nature of federal work, and a potential wave of employee retirements that could produce gaps in leadership and institutional knowledge, threaten to aggravate the problems created by existing skills gaps. Indeed, the government’s capacity to address complex challenges such as disaster response, national and homeland security, and rapidly-evolving technology and privacy security issues requires a skilled federal workforce able to work seamlessly with other agencies, with other levels of government, and across sectors.31