Updated at 4:00pm ET with White House comment on the freeze. On his first full day in office, US president Donald Trump announced a hiring freeze for the executive branch—outside of military personnel, national security, and public safety positions—and pledged to reduce the size of the federal government through workforce attrition. The federal government is the largest employer in the US, and the executive branch employs nearly 2.1 million civilians . Many are white-collar professionals, and the move seems designed to appeal to Trump voters rather than insure improvements in the US job situation as a whole. Unions and veterans groups say the federal hiring freeze would make the government less efficient, and make it harder for the US military personnel to find jobs when they leave the service. (About a third of all federal hires are military veterans, although if they’re working security positions, for example, they may not be affected). The freeze could also take off the table thousands of well-paying jobs for US citizens with higher education and specific skills. Listed on the Federal jobs website as of Jan. 24, for example, were nearly 800 nursing positions , many of them for the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Health and Human Services (and therefore outside the exception for military jobs), which pay anywhere from $40,000 to over $90,000 for experienced nurses who would be managing large departments. While Trump said on the campaign trail that jobs that affect “public health” would not be included, his memorandum does not make that exception.
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