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Federal Government Workers Report Worse Hiring Situation

Federal Government Workers Report Worse Hiring Situation

PRINCETON, NJ -- Federal government workers in March were much more likely to report that their employer was letting workers go and reducing the size of its workforce (41%) than hiring workers and expanding the size of its workforce (23%), resulting in a -18 Job Creation Index score among this group. This is down significantly since the budget sequester went into effect on March 1, dropping from -5 in February.

Trend: Job Creation Index by Federal Government Workers

The Job Creation Index among federal government workers has been in negative territory since June 2011. The March score is among the lowest recorded since Gallup began tracking hiring among government and nongovernment workers in August 2008. For much of 2008 and 2009, net hiring reports among federal government workers were decidedly more positive than negative, including highs of +30 in August 2008 and March 2009.

The sharp drop in federal employee hiring in March brought the Job Creation Index score among all government workers into negative territory for the first time since July, even though state and local government workers are still more likely to say their employers are hiring workers than letting them go.

Reports of hiring activity remain positive among nongovernment workers, with an index score of +20, based on 35% hiring workers and 15% letting them go. Among all U.S. workers, the index is +17, given that the vast majority of U.S. workers are employed by nongovernment employers.

March 2013 Gallup Job Creation Index, by Worker Type

National Hiring Picture Steady

The Job Creation Index among all U.S. workers has been relatively stable for several months, ranging between +16 and +19 since July. It remains much improved compared with 2009 and early 2010, but still has not returned to the levels seen in early 2008.

Trend: Job Creation Index Among All U.S. Workers

The trend in the Job Creation Index among all workers, largely driven by the trend for nongovernment workers, is essentially the mirror image of federal government hiring. Federal hiring has been weak for some time but was stronger from late 2008 through 2010.


Federal government workers reported a significantly worse hiring situation at their places of employment in the initial month of the federal budget sequester. The sharp drop in the Job Creation Index among federal government workers means that an already weak employment situation for federal workers has gotten worse.

At the same time, nongovernment workers report much more robust hiring activity, and because federal government workers account for a small percentage of all U.S. workers, the national jobs situation still appears to be relatively strong.

Clearly, the future direction of U.S. job creation will be largely tied to the course of nongovernment hiring, but a continued weak federal government hiring situation could hold back U.S. job growth overall. Even if Congress and the president agree on legislation to override the sequester, it is likely that any new budgets passed in the near term will attempt to limit government spending, which in turn means that federal government hiring could remain slow for quite some time. reports results from these indexes in daily, weekly, and monthly averages and in stories. Complete trend data are always available to view and export in the following charts:

Daily: Employment, Economic Confidence, Job Creation, Consumer Spending
Weekly: Employment, Economic Confidence, Job Creation, Consumer Spending

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Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking March 1-31, 2013, with a random sample of 17,818 adults, aged 18 and older, employed full or part time, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For results based on the total sample of employed adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cellphone numbers are selected using random digit dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted to correct for unequal selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, cellphone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2012 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the July-December 2011 National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the 2010 census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit

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