When people complain about how much government has grown, their harshest criticism usually is reserved for the federal government. In reality, the number of federal government employees hasn’t grown quickly at all, compared with state and local.
Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of federal government employees has grown at an average annual rate of only 0.4 percent since 1955, from 2.3 million employees to 2.8 million.
Local government, on the other hand, has grown at a rate of 2.4 percent per year, from 3.5 million employees in 1955 to 14.1 million in August 2012. State government growth averaged 2.6 percent per year, from 1.1 million to 5 million.
Of course, number of government employees isn’t the only way to measure government, and using other measures might yield different conclusions. But numbers of employees hardly suggests out-of-control growth of federal government.