Center for American Progress

Trump’s Federal Government Hiring Freeze Hurts Taxpayers and Workers

Trump’s Federal Government Hiring Freeze Hurts Taxpayers and Workers

History demonstrates that a government hiring freeze will lead to more privatization of government services—a move that will cost taxpayers money and make American jobs worse.

On January 23, President Donald Trump signed a freeze on the hiring of federal employees, a move that echoed President Ronald Reagan’s action 36 years earlier to block new federal hiring. Both men were delivering on campaign promises—Trump pledged to “clean up the corruption and special interest collusion in Washington” while Reagan aimed to stop “the drain on the economy by the public sector.” While public-sector workers provided an easy scapegoat for both administrations, history shows that President Trump’s freeze is likely to harm all Americans as the government is forced to increasingly privatize the delivery of goods and services. As a result, American taxpayers will face higher costs and workers will suffer.

The Trump and Reagan memorandums instituting federal hiring freezes are strikingly similar: Both documents rely on the White House Office of Management and Budget to administer the action; both exempt military personnel and allow for limited exemptions for essential services; and both clearly state that government contracting should not be used to circumvent the intent of the orders.

Perhaps the biggest difference is the magnitude of the challenge presented by freezing federal employment: Between 1980 and 2016, the size of the federal workforce declined 7 percent while the population of the United States expanded 43 percent. Yet Americans will expect the Trump administration to continue to provide the same essential services—including assistance in receiving Social Security benefits, oversight of environmental polluters, and protection of the nation’s food and water supply—with an even further diminished federal workforce.

The above excerpt was originally published in CAP Action. Click here to view the full article.

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Karla Walter

Senior Fellow, Inclusive Economy