FMC Home Link PBS Program LinkFMC Book LinkViewer's Voices LinkInteractivity LinkTeacher's Guide
  Book Intro LinkBook Authors LinkBook Download LinkCredits Link
FMC Logo 1
  < Back to Contents
  Chapter Eleven:

  Government Spending
  Government Employees
  Federal Entitlements
  Federal Judiciary
  Military Personnel
  Blacks in the Military
  Women in the Military
  War Deaths
  Patriotic Attitudes



FMC Logo 2  


Government Employees

chart link spacer



Federal government employees were a smaller component of the labor force at the end of the century than at any time since 1940.
As the chart indicates, in 1997, state and local governments employed six times more people than the federal government. This may seem counterintuitive, given the fact that all state and local governments combined spend somewhat less each year than the federal government. 

These employment trends can be easily explained, however. First, the federal government makes much greater use of contractors to perform governmental functions than do state and local governments. Federal agencies routinely outsource research and development, strategic planning, employee training and evaluation, computer installation, system and standards design, transportation, printing and even some national security and intelligence operations. Second, more than half of the federal budget consists of payments to, or on behalf of, individual beneficiaries— Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, welfare, veterans’ benefits, civil service and military retirement, housing subsidies, student aid, and so forth. Other substantial chunks go to the armed services, debt service, and grants to the states, leaving only about a fifth of the federal budget for the civilian payroll. The principal reductions of federal employees in the last decade of the century were among civilians working at the Department of Defense.

Chapter 11 chart 2

Source Notes
Source Abbreviations

HS series Y 308; SA 1987, table 471; SA 1997, tables 537 and 634; SA 1999, table 539. For federal expenditures exceeding state and local expenditures, see SA 97, tables 484 and 518. For a breakdown of federal expenditures, see SA 97, tables 518–521.


<<Previous      Next>>  


PBS Program | Trends of the Century | Viewer's Voices | Interactivity | Teacher's Guide