With all of the talk regarding the size of government one could argue that a fairly accurate measure of such would be how many government employees there are versus the number of citizens in the country. After all the number of employees it takes to effectively provide services to Americans should not vary too wildly despite who was in office however you will find that is not the case.

The numbers below were compiled by taking census data and comparing it to Historical Federal Workforce Tables to determine how many citizens 1 federal employee would cover. It is important to note that these figures are including non-military, civilian personnel. The bigger the number at the end, the more efficient the government is regarding coverage. For instance as a business owner if you ran 1 employee for every 20 customers you would be half as efficient as a business owner who was using 1 employee for every 40 customers.

Now that you have a handle on the efficiency model take a look at the figures:

  • 1984 235.8 million people, 2854000 nonmilitary government employees 1 employee per 82 citizens
  • 1988 244.5 million people, 3054000 nonmilitary government employees 1 employee per 80 citizens
  • 1992 256.5 million people, 3017000 nonmilitary government employees 1 employee per 85 citizens
  • 1996 269.3 million people, 2786000 nonmilitary government employees 1 employee per 96 citizens
  • 2000 282.1 million people, 2639000 nonmilitary government employees 1 employee per 106 citizens
  • 2004 292.8 million people, 2650000 nonmilitary government employees 1 employee per 110 citizens
  • 2008 304.0 million people, 2692000 nonmilitary government employees 1 employee per 112 citizens
  • 2010 309.3 million people, 2776000 nonmilitary government employees (with temporary census workers included) 1 employee per 111 citizens and 1 employee per 117 citizens without temporary census employees counted

These numbers point out some pretty incredible facts, of all the conservative presidents since 1984 only George W Bush managed to have numbers that got beyond the 1 employee per 90 citizen threshold while 10 years of liberal leadership saw numbers that were above 90 at minimum. It was Bill Clinton who got the number near 100 (96) 3 years into his term and then broke the 100 threshold shortly thereafter. When comparing Obamas 2010 figures (without temporary census workers) his figures show the lowest civilian government employee figures of any president going back to the 80’s by a wide margin. In fact, if we were to take 2010’s census figure of 309.3 million people and divide it by the ratio of government employees we had in 1988 under small government Reagan (1 per 80) we would have had 3,866,250 civilian government employees in 2010 which would be an INCREASE of 1,230,250 employees, factoring out temporary census workers of course.