Public employment fails to keep up


My e-mail pen pal Bill Harvey sent me links to articles with the charts shown above, both from the Economic Policy Institute, whcih the seriousness of the current attack on the public sector and the decline of public employment.

Public employment, unlike in previous economic recoveries, is still depressed, especially at the state and local level.  In and of itself, this creates a drag on the whole economy, just like job losses in any other category.

And after a certain point there aren’t enough public employees left to do their jobs adequately.   Teachers with too-large classes teach less effectively.  Firefighters with too-long shifts and too-small crews fight less effectively.  Nurses with too many patients may not be able to keep track of them as they should.  Public roads and public utilities aren’t maintained.

While there can be featherbedding in public employment, this is not the situation now.  Public services in many places are in dire straits.



There are more than five times as many private employees as public employees, but these charts give a good idea of the trend.

Private employment has bounced back, although not enough to keep pace with the growth in population.  Overall, according to the EPI, the United States is about 3 million jobs short of where it needs to be to keep up with population growth.

Public employment is still down, following the spike in hiring to conduct the 2010 census.  That’s not the only reason the economic recovery is so slow, but it doesn’t help.

You have to take this into consideration in judging the success of President Obama’s economic stimulus plan.  The hiring generated by the economic stimulus was largely offset by the economic—what is the opposite of stimulus?—narcotic at lower government levels.


Four Years Into Recovery, Austerity’s Toll Is At Least 3 Million Jobs by Josh Bivens and Heidi Shierholz for the Economic Policy Institute.  (via Bill Harvey)

The Teacher Gap: Strong Gains, but Large Jobs Gap Remains by Elise Gould for the Economic Policy Institute (via Bill Harvey)

The Plot Against Public Education: How millionaires and billionaires are ruining our schools by Bob Herbert for Politico.

Obama Is the World’s Worst Socialist by Mark Gongloff for the Huffington Post.

Public Sector Unions Win When They Preach ‘Tax the Rich’ by Mark Brennan for Labor Notes (via Bill Harvey)

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

One Response to “Public employment fails to keep up”

  1. Atticus C. Says:

    Public sector jobs are down, but I have the feeling (but no numbers to back it up) that jobs provided by Government work is up. I work in consulting and billions of dollars are allocated to the private sector in consulting and compliance projects. For example, we have a team of almost 100 individuals working on a financial project for the Government – we actually went out and hired people specifically to staff this project. Our firm has an entire branch dedicated to Public Sector consulting projects. All of the largest (and small) firms have the same structure.

    In gross – I’ll bet that Government related jobs are up – just shifted from the traditional idea of being a Government/Public employee to consulting roles. In fact, this probably creates more upper-middle class people because consultants make a lot more than teachers and fire-fighters.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: