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USDA Forest Service Employee Diversity During a Period of Workforce Contraction

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Westphal, Lynne ; Dockry, Michael ; Kenefic, Laura; Sachdeva, Sonya ; Rhodeland, Amelia ; Locke, Dexter; Kern, Christel; Huber-Stearns, Heidi ; Coughlan, Michael R.

Year Published



Journal of Forestry


We analyzed USDA Forest Service (Forest Service) employment data from 1995 to 2017, by race and ethnicity, gender, as well as race/ethnicity and gender, to assess progress towards the Forest Service’s goal of achieving a multicultural workforce that reflects the US population. We look at the trends by an employee’s level in the Forest Service and by branch of the Forest Service. Our data show an overall decrease in the workforce by 24%, an increase in diversity in Forest Service leadership levels, little change in the percentage of employees in non-White racial/ethnic groups combined, the number of Black employees decreased, and the number of women in lower grades and in the National Forest System Deputy Area decreased. Comparison with the civilian labor force provides additional context. Implications are relevant beyond the Forest Service, including a risk of losing public trust and reduced agency effectiveness if a representative workforce is not achieved.


diversity; multiculturalism; Forest Service; workforce; employment


Westphal, Lynne M; Dockry, Michael J; Kenefic, Laura S; Sachdeva, Sonya S; Rhodeland, Amelia; Locke, Dexter H; Kern, Christel C; Huber-Stearns, Heidi R; Coughlan, Michael R. 2022. USDA Forest Service Employee Diversity During a Period of Workforce Contraction. Journal of Forestry. 120(4): 434-452.

Last updated on: November 15, 2022