Published in Buzzworthy, 2017
The week following Donald Trump’s inauguration as President of the United States has been one fraught with chaos and controversy. Amidst blocking federal funding for any global health organisations that provide abortion, withdrawing from Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, resurrecting the widely-protested Dakota and Keystone pipelines as well as enforcing refugee and immigration policies that have been vastly condemned as racist, Donald Trump has announced a hiring freeze throughout the federal government.
Described by the Washington Post as “red meat to his base” who wish to see the powers of the federal government limited, the memorandum that Trump signed on the 22nd of this month has barred the filling of vacant positions in the federal government or creation of new positions (“except in limited circumstances”). Perhaps somewhat overshadowed in the media by more divisive policy changes, the freezing of new employment in the federal government is a move that has challenging ramifications for millions of Americans and, in particular, the consequences for the 21.8 million veterans currently residing in the United States must be considered judiciously.
The announcement that Trump would seek to limit numbers of federal government employees should come as no surprise to those that were listening to his campaign trail – ultimately he is fulfilling one of his key promises. However, the pretences under which this action has been performed are undeniably misleading, with false claims that the employee base has been expanding markedly in recent years. White House press secretary Sean Spicer stated that the freeze “counters the dramatic expansion of the federal workforce in recent years”, which is patently untrue. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employee base of the federal government increased 3% from May of 2014 to December of 2016 – in contrast the civilian workforce (not including federal government employees) increased 4.9% over that same period. In terms of overall percentage in the total American workforce, the federal workforce is also smaller than it has been in over 70 years.
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