Statistics and forecasts address the increasing number of government workers and shed light on emerging trends for purchasing managers.
Governments at all levels continue to beef up their staffs. State and local governments employed 15.4 million full-time equivalent workers in 2001, a two percent increase over 2000, says the U.S. Census Bureau's latest data.
On the federal side, civilian employment stood at about 2,620,000 in the summer of 2002, a jump of about 4,000 over 2001 totals (preliminary Bureau of Labor Statistics data).
What's more, government hiring of college graduates is expected to increase by 20 percent this year, predicts the National Association of Colleges and Employers. The reasons for the hiring boost, says the association:
- An impending shortage of workers caused by retirements
- Need to hire more security specialists in the aftermath of September 11, 2001
Growing government workforces mean more competition for manufacturers and other private-sector employers, says Chris Edwards, Director of Fiscal Policy at the Cato Institute, a free-market think tank in the nation's capital. Consider highlyskilled scientists and engineers, adds Edwards. "When the federal R&D labs recruit the most brilliant scientists to work on designing new missiles, then that means those researchers aren't building the next generation of PCs or PDAs, or whatever products overseas manufacturers are inventing."
Edwards notes that federal agencies are relying more on outside consultants and contractors rather than employees to perform tasks, and that these individuals don't show up in federal personnel counts. Recent Brookings Institution (Washington, D.C.) research shows a doubling in the use of out-side contractors who aren't included in federal payroll totals.
As expected, the District of Columbia has the highest percentage of non-farm workers employed in government, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) estimates through this past June. The states that have more than 25 percent of non-farm workers on government payrolls are: Alaska, New Mexico, and Wyoming. What's more, 37 states count more government workers than employees on manufacturing payrolls within their workforces, based on a Government Procurement analysis of BLS data.
Government hiring of civilian workers does NOT match economic cycles in the U.S.
Government hiring is not cyclical. If anything, government has often been counter-cyclical—often adding jobs to offset periods of high.
Between 1990 and 2000, government added 2.3 million workers. In 2001, this sector added another 188,000 jobs. Government's share of total U.S. employment has been relatively stable since 1990, ranging from 15.1 to 15.7 percent.
Editors of the Economic & Demo-graphic Trends Newsletter told Government Procurement: "Civilian government agencies have added workers every year since 1982. During and immediately after the recession in the early 1990s, government civilian job growth averaged 1.3 percent per year. This growth rate slowed to an average of 0.7 percent per year from 1995 to 1997, and then rose to 1.5 percent in 1998 and 1999, 2.0 percent in 2000, and 0.9 percent in 2001." The Economic & Demographic Trends Newsletter is published by the Growth Strategies Organization (Vail, CO).
Government Purchasing Workforce—Sizable and Robust
Governments continue to employ substantial numbers of managers—well into the thousands. Governments, though, may not be hiring as many purchasing managers in the future. BLS forecasts through the year 2010 show drops in employment at several levels of government, including federal.
One person who shares the view that government purchasing workforces may not be growing is Jack McCown, C.P.M., past President of the National Purchasing Institute (NPI). McCown also serves as Purchasing Agent in Harris County (TX).
"I don't see increased hiring in the future for government procurement professionals, and I base that prima-rily on our ability to use the Internet and the e-procurement software that's out there," says McCown. Government Procurement caught up with McCown as he was on his way to view an e-procurement software demonstration for his agency.
New technology, McCown believes, will enable government procurement officials to operate "more like contract administrators."
Smaller government jurisdictions, adds McCown, have been upgrading their workforces, going from a clerical staffer to a purchasing professional. He explains: "A lot of the smaller counties, it seems, are going out and finding purchasing professionals. They may just hire one person to oversee the purchasing function, where in the past that's been a clerical function done in the auditor's office or county judge's office."
Within Harris County, McCown supervises purchases totaling $700 million annually. He's been in the purchasing profession since 1968, and has worked in the public sector since 1985. Harris County's population is about 3.3 million, making it the third-largest county in the U.S.
|Government Workforce Forecast: Purchasing Managers|
|Industry|| || || |
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|Federal Government (except Postal Service)|| || || || || || |
|Hospitals (Public and Private)|| || || || || || |
|Educational Services (Public and Private)|| || || || || || |
|Local Government (except Education and Hospitals)|| || || || || || |
|State Government (except Education and Hospitals)|| || || || || || |
|Highway and Street Construction|| || || || || || |
|Total Employment (All Industries)*|| || || || || || |
|* Note: Total of all industries is presented for comparison purposes.|
Editor's Note: Michael Keating, research manager, started with the Government Group in 1974. His articles about the government market have appeared in a variety of publications, including USA Today, the February 2002 Auto Laundry News, and the September 2002 Sanitary Maintenance magazine.
Visit his Web site at http://users.en.com/ship.