Number Employed by Government in United States Declined 1,278,000 in 2020

By Terence P. Jeffrey | January 8, 2021 | 9:42am EST
(MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
(MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

( - The number of people employed by government in the United States dropped from 22,679,000 in December 2019 to 21,401,000 in December 2020, a decline of 1,278,000, according to the data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Even as overall government employment was going down, however, federal government employment went up from the end of 2019 to the end of 2020. In December 2019, the federal government employed 2,847,000. As of December 2020, it employed 2,908,000—an increase of 61,000.

State governments saw their collective employment drop from 5,184,000 in December 2019 to 4,826,000 in December 2020—a decline of 358,000.

Local governments saw their collective employment drop from 14,648,000 to 13,667,000—a decline of 981,000.

Overall government employment in the United States hit it all-time peak in May 2019. That month, governments in the United States employed 22,996,000.

Federal government employment is impacted every ten year by the decennial Census. “Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau carries out a count of every resident in the United States, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. island territories,” said an BLS analysis published. “To accomplish this task, the Census Bureau hires a large number of temporary workers for short periods.”

“In Match 2010, hiring of temporary decennial census workers resumed, affecting CES employment estimates substantially,” explained BLS. “The level of temporary, intermittent census workers on payrolls reached 87,000. Employment levels grew rapidly over the next 2 months as hiring peaked in May 2010, with 546,000 temporary, intermittent census workers on payrolls.”


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