The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Where the feds are: Not just in capital area

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Federal employees and retirees understandably are concentrated in the Washington area, but they are present in every state and congressional district, newly compiled figures show.

The Federal Employed Women association on Tuesday released its biennial interactive map of the federal presence nationwide based on data from the Labor Department and the Office of Personnel Management.

“The most important fact is that every legislator has federal workers, retirees and postal workers employed and/or living in their district. So the next time lawmakers consider cutting benefits for federal workers or retirees, let them remember that they are referring to their own constituents’ livelihoods,” FEW President Michelle Crockett said in a statement.

(Visit the Eye on Washington site for an interactive version of this map)

The employment figures include the self-funding U.S. Postal Service and reflect where employees work, while the retiree numbers reflect where they live.

Even when employees don’t live in a congressional district where they work, “you’re still spending money there, still going to lunch, still shopping. It does affect the economy of the district,” FEW Washington representative Janet Kopenhaver said in a phone interview.

The figures show some 325,000 employees and retirees in Virginia and some 305,000 in Maryland, in both cases about evenly split between the two categories. Those two states fell only in third and fourth place nationally, however, behind the 443,000 in California and the 351,000 in Texas, and just ahead of the 294,000 in Florida.

By local district, the largest numbers in Virginia are in the 8th, 10th and 11th districts, represented by Reps. Don Beyer (D), Barbara Comstock (R) and Gerald E. Connolly (D) respectively. In Maryland, the largest numbers are in the 3rd, 5th and 2nd districts, represented by Reps. John P. Sarbanes, Steny H. Hoyer and C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, all Democrats.

Kopenhaver said that the association did not compile data for the District because so many federal employees who work there live in Maryland or Virginia, making the numbers somewhat misleading for comparison’s sake.

OPM data using a different counting method show some 142,000 federal employees and some 26,000 retirees in the District.