Then I said to myself, hold on, how many people work at DHS? 450,000? That's almost 0.15% of the US population. How many people work for the federal government? A LOT apparently. There is repeatedly disputes that the current government workforce is smaller than it has been historically, but all that data looks at top level, non-contractor, federal numbers. It's frankly hard to get the real numbers using "the Google Service" (tm My Dad coined this term while informing me last Christmas that they had gotten the Google Service at their house since I was last down to visit, so I could use it to look stuff up if I wanted), but I'm going to take a stab at estimating it just so I can feel how big the number is.
Federal Government data puts their total Employees count at 4,443,000 as of 2010:
- 2.776mm - civilians
- 1.602mm - uniformed military
- 0.64mm - legislative and judicial
- 1,824,042 (41.67% of total State Government FTEs) - Education; surprisingly, only 7.5% of these are elementary & secondary education employees?
- 472,306 (10.8%) - Corrections! That War on Drugs is putting people to work!
- 409,195 (9.35%) - Hospitals
- 235,934 (5.39%) - Public Welfare
- 230,370 (5.26%) - Highways
- Every other category comprised less than 5% of the total
- Paul C Light is the guy to turn to for these numbers. He reported in the Washington Times that the number of Federal contractors rose from 4.4mm in 1999 to 7.5mm in 2005, and then to 14.6mm in 2006 (someone to fight our wars).
- Using his numbers as a proxy, there were 14.6mm contractors in 2006 and 4.133mm Employees of the Federal Government that year, or 3.53 contractors per employee. Using that 3.53x the 4.443mm Employees in 2010, I get 15,683,790 contractors for 2010 (maybe it's less due to the draw down in the theatres of war, maybe it's more due to DHS, I don't know, but this seemed reasonable for now.
Total Employees & Contractors working in our government - 24,504,567
The Census Bureau tells me there are 311,591,917 folks living here, mostly citizens at the end of last year. Of those folks, 114,509,626 were working in nonfarm jobs back in 2009.
Realizing that this is somewhat of a guesstimate, but please give me feedback on how to improve it, these are pretty scary numbers. That means that 7.9% of our total population (including babies, for the love of god) are working for the government. For every 12 of us, there is a 13th person working for the government. If you limit the population to just the working population, 21.4% of the US worker bees are making government honey; LESS than 4 out of 5 worker bees are in private enterprise!
I don't know - I have never looked at these numbers this way before (apparently other folks have ad nauseum), but these seem really concerning to me. Especially since the States employee contractors as well, and so my numbers are probably conservative. What do these people do? Why is there effectively 1 government employee to represent my household, surely we can do this more efficiently - if that is as efficient as the government is going to get, then I'd rather move to a farm with wind power, a well, and our own private butler for Pete's sake. Obviously I would also want my taxes back, which include 15.3% self-employment tax, an effective (i.e. actual taxes paid divided by actual household revenue) federal rate of 11% (doesn't sound as good after the self-employment tax, does it - I wonder why Mitt Romney doesn't factor that in when he talks about taxes), and an effective state rate of 2%. I actually could afford a butler if I got to keep another 28.3% of my income each year.