The Trump administration is telling federal agencies to get smaller and more streamlined. But the size of the federal workforce has remained relatively stable since the late 90s and is a relatively small slice of total government employment. Here's how federal government employment compares to the local and state-level, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

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Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics

About 22.3 million Americans are employed in the government sector. The federal government employs about 2.8 million people, roughly a tenth of the totall. The majority of government workers are employed at the local and state level and a large part of that employment is education-related. Between 1970 and 2017, local and state government employment has doubled, while federal employment has remained about the same.

  • See those small spikes in federal employment? Those are temporary employees hired for the census. In 2010, 635 thousand people were hired as enumerators, up from 550 thousand in 2000.
  • The Postal Service makes up a sizable but shrinking part of total federal employment. The number of postal employees shrunk by about 100 thousand while the rest of the government grew by roughly the same amount.
  • This data excludes military personnel, as well as employees of the intelligence community, but that number has also shrunk. According to the Office of Personnel Management, there were 3.1 million uniformed military personnel in 1970, and 1.4 million in 2014.

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Over 73 million people watched the first debate on TV

Data: Nielsen; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

More than 73.1 million people watched the first presidential debate on television on Tuesday night, according to Nielsen ratings.

Why it matters: While that's a sizable audience for any American TV program, it's down more than 13% from the record number of TV viewers who tuned in for the first debate of the 2016 election. The chaotic nature of the debate and the overall uncertainty around this year's election may have pushed some viewers away.

Senate passes bill funding government through December

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Senate on Tuesday passed legislation to fund the federal government through Dec. 11, by a vote of 84-10.

Where it stands: The legislation will avert a government shutdown before funding expires Wednesday night and before the Nov. 3 election. The House passed the same measure last week by a vote of 359-57 after House Democrats and the Trump administration agreed on the resolution.

  • Both sides agreed early in negotiations that the bill should be a "clean" continuing resolution — meaning each party would only make small changes to existing funding levels so the measure would pass through both chambers quickly, Axios' Alayna Treene reported last week. The bill now goes to President Trump for his signature.
Bryan Walsh, author of Future
2 hours ago - Technology

The age of engineering life begins

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Synthetic biology startups raised some $3 billion through the first half of 2020, up from $1.9 billion for all of 2019, as the field brings the science of engineering to the art of life.

The big picture: Synthetic biologists are gradually learning how to program the code of life the way that computer experts have learned to program machines. If they can succeed — and if the public accepts their work — synthetic biology stands to fundamentally transform how we live.