Public-sector employees tended to have more job security, which in some ways helps during weak economic climates, as their steady demand for goods and services spread through the economy. The recent trend, conversely, can make things worse.
“If public-sector employment had grown since June 2009 by the average amount it grew in the three previous recoveries (2.8 percent) instead of shrinking by 2.5 percent, there would be 1.2 million more public-sector jobs in the U.S. economy today,” said the Economic Policy Institute in a recent report, which included federal employees in the calculation.
Local governments have cut 482,000 jobs since the beginning of 2009. They added jobs in just two months since 2011 started. Previously, states only had two consecutive years of layoffs, 1995 and 1996, when they scrapped about 57,000 jobs, or about one-third of the 150,000 cut since the beginning of 2009.
“The current recovery is the only one that has seen public-sector losses over its first 31 months,” the report said.
As of March, 14.1 million people worked for local governments and 5.1 million for states. Public employees outnumber those in manufacturing, construction, and other areas typically considered engines of the economy…