You may or may not be surprised to know that the number of government jobs has dropped by about 1 million in the past couple years. In May of 2010 the government sector employed 22.997 million people. As of July 2012 there were 21.928M government jobs. Thats a reduction of 1.069M government jobs. You can get the specifics on employment by industry in the BLS CES database
Currently the labor force is at 155.013M. Therefore the contraction of 1.069M government jobs equates to 0.7% of the labor force. One could conclude that these lost jobs add to the rolls of the unemployed.
If you consider population growth the impact is higher. From May 2010 to July 2012 the population grew about 2%. If government employment had grown along with the population then it would be at 22.997M x 1.02 = 23.45694M. Thats 1.52894M fewer jobs than we have currently. This amount is about 1% of the labor force.
I am not trying to draw any conclusions from this and I don't have a point here. I just thought it was interesting that the number of government jobs has shrunk that much in the past couple years. I'm not sure of the exact cause but I'd assume its belt tightening but could also be due to some demographic shifts.
Here are some charts showing the trend in government employment broken down by the various government levels:
But you can see that spike is again shown here in the federal government employment rolls. Federal jobs went up about 600k briefly in 2010.
You might be interested to know that there were actually more federal government employees in the 1940's and 1960s than there are today. Here's the longer term trend :
From that longer term graph of federal jobs you can also notice those short term spikes in employment every 10 years. I assume those spokes in employment including the jump in 2010 is due to the US Census hiring temporary workers every 10 years to conduct the Decennial Census.
US Postal Service: