Federal Hiring Freeze will Kneecap Veterans more than Perhaps any Other Group

by Kerry Eleveld –

Without bothering to check the numbers, White House press secretary Sean Spicer claimed Monday that Donald Trump’s hiring freeze on nonmilitary federal employees would combat the “dramatic expansion of the federal workforce in recent years.” But the only thing it will actually combat is veterans’ services and employment opportunities.

Federal hiring has been significantly outpaced “in recent years” by the increase in civilian hiring—rising only about 3 percent from 2014 to 2016, compared to a 4.9 percent jump in civilian workers. Christopher Ingraham writes:

As a share of the total civilian workforce, in percentage terms, the federal workforce is smaller than it’s been in nearly 70 years. […]

There’s considerable doubt about the efficacy of hiring freezes as a federal management tool. A 1982 Government Accountability Office report found that “governmentwide hiring freezes, regardless of how well they are managed, are not an effective means of controlling federal employment.” The report found that hiring freezes up until that point had “disrupted agency operations and, in some cases, increased costs to the government.”

But the dirty little secret of Trump’s freeze is that it stands to hurt veterans perhaps more than any other demographic. Vets made up about 44 percent of nonmilitary full-time federal hires in 2015, after the Obama administration focused specifically on putting veterans back to work.

The largest share of veterans joined the Air Force, where they made up 62.1 percent of new employees in nonseasonal, permanent full-time jobs in fiscal 2015, according to federal data released late last week. 

Veterans also were well-represented at other agencies, from the Transportation Department (55 percent) to the Social Security Administration (39.3 percent). They made up 46.4 percent of new hires at the State Department and 39.2 percent at the Labor Department.

Additionally, one agency that will be hit hardest by the freeze is the VA, says Randy Erwin, president of National Federation of Federal Employees.

Erwin also pointed out that the Department of Veterans Affairs currently has 2,000 vacancies and said “it is the American veteran that is going to suffer” because the agency is now barred from filling those vacancies. 

Trump, in July 2016:

“We will take care of our great veterans like they have never been taken care of before.”


Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos