Hundreds of Wright-Patt, Dayton VA jobs vacant as hiring freeze ends

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base employs more than 27,000 employees and is the largest single-site employer in Ohio. The base has a $4.1 billion regional economic impact. TY GREENLESS/STAFF

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Wright-Patterson Air Force Base employs more than 27,000 employees and is the largest single-site employer in Ohio. The base has a $4.1 billion regional economic impact. TY GREENLESS/STAFF

A federal hiring freeze that was due to be lifted Wednesday won’t mean a rush of hiring at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base or the Dayton VA Medical Center, both of which count hundreds of job vacancies, officials say.

As of Wednesday, Wright-Patterson reported 1,041 job vacancies and the Dayton VA had 268 openings, the federal organizations said.

President Donald Trump had imposed a 90-day hiring freeze upon assuming the presidency, and his administration has called for cuts in the size of the federal workforce. Critics said the freeze was impeding the government’s ability to function.

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“The hiring freeze was causing problems because the base was unable to fill important vacancies” and put promotions and transfers on hold, said Michael Gessel, Dayton Development Coalition vice president of federal programs.

The freeze exempted the military, VA health care jobs, and in some cases national security and public safety-related positions, but thousands of jobs remained open in places like the Department of Defense and the VA.

Wright-Patterson spokeswoman Marie Vanover said the Miami Valley military installation was awaiting instructions from Air Force headquarters on how to proceed once the hiring freeze has lifted.

“Because we haven’t received guidance on this, we don’t know how many positions might be filled,” she said Wednesday.

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Dayton VA spokesman Ted Froats said the facility was working with its central office to determine how to move ahead with hiring and fill “the most urgent positions with the most qualified applicants first.”

Gessel said the extent of cuts to the federal workforce was still playing out.

“I’m hopeful that defense (civil workers) will be protected from downsizing, but we don’t know. We simply do not know the direction the administration will take other than the administration has promised to make defense a high priority,” he said.

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