2017 Federal Hiring Freeze That May Lead to 2018 Job Cuts and Federal GS Pay Freeze For Government Workers

This article was last updated on March 16

[Update March 2017] President Trump has continued his attack on the federal workforce by announcing across the board funding cuts in his latest budget proposal that could lead to between 100,000 and 200,000 job cuts. This is according to Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics. This cut would constitute up to 9% of civil servant jobs. On the flip side Trump is proposing a $54 billion increase in defense spending which would add jobs to the DoD and other military agencies.


President Donald Trump signed another executive order that ordered a federal hiring freeze. This excludes military, public health and national security workers, but does cover the vast majority of federal employees. This is building on his campaign rhetoric and 100 day plan to reduce government payrolls and limit the size of the federal workforce.

But there are concerns now that this action could lead to a freezing of 2018 GS Pay scales, since the hiring freeze only affects existing open or newly planed positions. This is the most significant unintended effect of this action that many fear, even as they support the idea of cutting down government staffing.

With the 2017 GS pay raise of 2.1% (including locality pay) signed in by former President Obama before leaving office, many federal workers are seeing Trump’s anti-government stance as potentially leading to another pay freeze for Federal employees next year. While 2018 government pay freezes won’t be a topic that gets addressed until later in the year it is going to be a big watch list of item for those on the GS pay scale.

There are also concerns that if contractors are hired to complete the work left by these frozen positions, the quality of work will suffer and costs will just shift from payroll to expense budgets rather than be cut. Further how will federal agencies attract talented workers if there is little monetary incentive to stay or join. Federal employee groups have also said that since more than 85 percent of federal employees live and work outside the nation’s capital, so a hiring freeze targeting civilian workers will be felt in cities and towns across the country. Not just a Washington D.C issue.

[Update]  The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has released a memo, with guidelines for agencies’ around following the President’s executive memorandum of the federal hiring freeze. Basically it states that agencies cannot fill existing vacant positions, nor can they issue any new jobs offers or create new positions. However individuals who received a job offer or an appointment before Jan. 22 and have received a confirmation from the agency should report to work on the agreed start date. If no start date was agreed then agency heads should review the position and may rescind the offer.

Limited exemptions are allowed for positions/jobs that are necessary to maintain public safety or national security. The DOD confirmed that the memo does not apply to military personnel but includes civilian employees who work at defense agencies.

13 thoughts on “2017 Federal Hiring Freeze That May Lead to 2018 Job Cuts and Federal GS Pay Freeze For Government Workers

  1. Suck it up feddies- we’re done supporting this salary money grab/expansion gone out of control

    1. You’re right. No more federal workers to support the military. The military has had it good enough with civilians helping it.

  2. Great…after years of freezing our pay, then to get a measly 1% for a couple of years and now back to 0%..what’s the point…I’m an engineer (PE, Chemical), and I am looking outside the government…the only ones staying are those with zero skills; your government will suffer! And no, we did not get a 2.1% raise….Obama made sure that most of us for 2017 only got the 1.6-1.7% and those in DC got the 2.1%….how unfair!

  3. I think that’s kind of the point. Private sector workers are not getting a 2.1% pay raise, especially when layoffs are factored in. Honestly, in addition to cutting the federal workforce by 20%, Trump should start to transition federal workers from pensions to defined contribution plans like the rest of who are using 401ks. Not to sound harsh, but the abuse of the taxpayer has gone on too long.

    1. Are you under the impression that federal workers are not taxpayers as well? If so you are sadly mistaken

    2. Also, there are private sector workers who get paid way more than government workers. You can’t make equitable comparisons since fact patterns are case-by-case.

    3. Mike you do realize that federal workers pay taxes too right? Additionally this hiring freeze will force government agencies to higher contractors to carry out civilian positions. Contracts cost tax payers much more money and aren’t stable. Why punish the federal worker? Especially ones in the DOD who keep your military ready and secure your border.The real drain on society is the non working individual who abuses the welfare system. These are the individuals that cost the tax payer dearly!

    4. I’m an MBA working in contracting for the government making 35k. The same job in private sector would earn me 80-120k.

      1. Megan – Not sure of your situation. But if such a pay discrepancy you should look to work in the private sector. I assume you must love what you do for the government (greater good and all) but this discrepancy is huge

      2. I am govee making 107k if go back to private sector it would be about the same but without pension but still get 401k like tbe TSP. It depends where you live and if you get a somewhat ok locality rate on top of base. I get hit with the new FERS 4.4% hit which sucks because others grandfathered in just get 0.8% taken out. This changed happens 4 years ago. Take away the pension there is NO reason to go govee.

    5. I’m a federal employee. I don’t have a pension. They got rid of that style of retirement a while ago.

      1. That’s not a true statement, federal employees get FERS but take a 4.4% hit on their paycheck/LES statement. They also get 401k via TSP. Take away the pension there is no motivation to go govee anymore

    6. They do get 401k plans called the TSP and is inline was the private sector. If they take pension called FERS away that is no more benefit and saying in private sector would be preferred. They already raised FERS deductions from 0.8 to 4.4 like 4 years ago which hurts the paycheck.

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