Data Dive

Nearly half of all civilian feds are new hires since 2019

Agencies hired more than 1 million federal employees since October 2019, and it’s almost an even split between competitive and excepted service.

A recent thread on the FedNews Reddit page about what would you tell a new hire walking into the federal government sparked a question at Federal News Network.

Just how many people have been hired across the government over the past, say, five years?

Quick to FedScope we went.

If you’ve never used FedScope, it’s a treat. And I don’t mean that in a nice way. It takes a certain skillset, definite patience and some failures to get the hang of it. Luckily, Federal News Network’s Deputy Editor Jared Serbu has “mastered” that expertise.

The results of our search through FedScope were telling. Between October 2019 and September 2023, agencies hired more than 1 million new employees. There are more than 2 million in the federal civilian workforce in both the defense and non-defense agencies.

FedScope is limited in the data it provides, which is why we are only giving the numbers through September of last year.

We further broke down the data by other categories to give you a sense of how agencies are using the broad authorities to fill open positions.

Given the Department of Veterans Affairs’ push to address workforce challenges to improve its service to veterans, it’s no surprise the agency hired the most people over this five-year period. The biggest surprise may be the Interior Department making the top 10, but some of that may be for seasonal workers.

The Office of Personnel Management describes three types of hires in the federal government:
• Competitive
• Excepted
• Senior Executive Service

Let’s start with competitive service, which as the name suggests, is the way a majority of the new federal workers have been hired over the last five years. In all, OPM data shows 541,156 in total competitive hires.

Moving to Excepted hiring, OPM defines this approach where competitive status is not required. Agencies can hire an employee under excepted status through the Veterans Recruitment Appointment or being appointed to a position defined by OPM as excepted, such as attorneys. Since October 2019, OPM data shows agencies have hired 467,092 employees through this approach.

Finally, under SES hiring, agencies brought in 1,522 new leaders over the five-year period. There are only 8,222 members of the SES as of 2022, the most recent data available, which the Partnership for Public Service put together in June 2023. The Partnership found that on average about 200 new people come into the SES each year, but with the number of current senior executives eligible to retire — more than 62% through 2025 — there are more opportunities for agencies to bring new employees into leadership roles.

Obviously, there is a ton of more data to pull from FedScope. Tell me what you thought of this data dive and what other data would you like to see.

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