The Private Sector's Losing Jobs. The Government's Gaining Jobs. Solution: Make All Jobs Government Jobs

Is this month's "unexpected" loss of private sector jobs a hint of what shape the economy will take during the non-recovery?

Just yesterday, in an interview with CNBC, Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner said the U.S. economy was "probably just on the verge now, of what we think to be a sustained period of job creation, finally."

The details of ADP's job report [pdf] argue against that. Once again, the big losses were in manufacturing and construction jobs, which sustained enough damage to swamp a slight uptick in service sector jobs.

It's doubtful that manufacturing employment will see a big comeback, given reduced consumer spending and spent demand. It is even less likely that construction jobs will be growing while the market is experiencing a "continual flow of distressed properties priced below the cost of production."

But Calculated Risk points out something interesting. The Bureau of Labor Statistics' report on Friday is expected to show an increase of 200,000 payroll jobs in March, in part thanks to "Census 2010 hiring." That is, the healthiest sector of the job market, as Reason TV notes in this new video, is in government work.

In the why-didn't-we-think-of-this-sooner department, it's just a matter of time before somebody figures out that you can solve this problem by turning more jobs from private to public. Then nobody will ever lose a job again.

No sooner said than done! The Obama Administration has things well in hand, with a new study on how the federal government can insource more tasks that are currently done by private contractors:

The Office of Federal Procurement Policy will publish draft guidelines in Wednesday's Federal Register to clarify the definition of "inherently governmental functions," or jobs that should be performed by government workers instead of private contractors. The draft says that such tasks are so directly tied to the public interest that they must be done by government workers.

Those tasks include setting agency policy, hiring workers, awarding contracts and performing other core roles, such as inspectors at the Labor Department or airport security screeners with the Department of Homeland Security.

But the guidelines also seek to define tasks that could be performed by either private- or public-sector workers, such as providing technical assistance to government officials evaluating contracts or managing an agency's information-technology infrastructure.

This makes it sound like the report will simply clarify which jobs should remain private, rather than growing the government-worker sector. But the tell comes later in the WashPost story: "Union leaders, who have long fought privatization efforts, also cheered the move."

When dealing with the obtuse triangle of government, government employees and government contractors, you might be tempted to wish that they could all lose their jobs. But it's instructive that this is the kind of thing the administration is concerning itself with in the face of a non-trivial unemployment crisis. Oh yeah, this and making sure we all have health insurance.

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  • ||

    So that's what the banhammer looks like!

  • ||

    +1.

    I do think that photo would be better if they were both naked under those aprons though.

  • Jordan Elliot||

    Indeed.

    Boy, we're just keep getting all sorts of good news today. The Government can truly save us all!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    That's the Eastern Bloc version of American Gothic.

  • Jim||

    As usual, crime increases during a reession.

  • ||

    Possibly white collar crime goes down, though. Easier to get away with that during the upswing.

  • Jersey Patriot||

    In the why-didn't-we-think-of-this-sooner department, it's just a matter of time before somebody figures out that you can solve this problem by turning more jobs from public to private. Then nobody will ever lose jobs.

    This is called "The United Kingdom Solution". The UK, under Conservative and Labour governments alike, has been doing this like crazy for the last 30 years. The results are pretty predictable: lots of people working by doing nothing in particular, lots of healthy people on disability pay, lots of GSEs and quangos and schemes, lots of papers shuffled. The UK is now running close to national bankruptcy and can't afford legions of do-nothings on public pay.

    The underlying problem, that the world economy doesn't need a middle class in America & Western Europe, is probably unsolvable.

  • Corduroy Rocks||

    "The underlying problem, that the world economy doesn't need a middle class in America & Western Europe, is probably unsolvable."

    Truer words were never spoken.

    Our citizens act as if the world owes them a better life just for existing. Our collective arrogance will be our undoing.

  • ||

    Not really sure what you mean by this? Should the western world's middle classes vote to make themselves poor? Should they support a massive transfer of wealth to the developing world.

    On what basis would that be a good decision for western countries? Some abstract measure of global productivity?

  • Invisible Finger||

    Should the western world's middle classes vote to make themselves poor?

    They have already been doing so for 70+ years.

  • ||

    ?? The American middle-class is the consumer engine that has been driving growth all over the world.

    It's the reason why export-led development has worked. China wouldn't be shit without middle-class American consumers buying cheap chinese crap.

    Of course, that engine has been credit-fuelded over the past decade or two, so it's drying up. Which is why the rest of the world is so freaked. At some point, other people are going to have to start buying shit to keep the credit cycle going.

    The underlying problem is that governments don't understand that labor must be productive to add to the economy. There's a broad misconception that merely making the money circulate faster will produce prosperity.

    One aspect of that has been to encourage pointless consumerism. Precisely the middle-class credit-driven consumption which has sustained the economy. But the bills are coming due now, and that model is broken.
    They've fallen back on government jobs for the time being but that model is doomed to fail as well.

    I think that whatever wrenching adjustment takes place in the US is going to involve some pretty big restructurings of the world economy as well. Developing nations just aren't going to be able to rely on exports to the US to drive their economies. We're going to see a more multi-dimensional trading pattern, which is going to mean demands for different kinds of products.

    All that could be a good thing for the world and the US, but it's likely to mean that the US economy is going to look a lot different in 10 years.

  • The Gobbler||

    ""inherently governmental functions," or jobs that should be performed by government workers"

    Wiping my ass would be a good example.

  • Flex Nasty B.I.G.||

    Also, juggling deez nutz.

  • ¢||

    probably just on the verge now, of what we think

    You might be thinking to yourself, "Did he hedge five times or six?"

    You have to ask yourself one question: "Do I feel a distressing pressure against my anus?"

    Do ya, punk?

  • Kolohe||

    ...define tasks that could be performed by either private- or public-sector workers, such as providing technical assistance to government officials evaluating contracts...

    And you can award a contract to someone to provide advice on who to hire for technical assistance in awarding contracts! Stimulus!

    Seriously government contracting is a mess - although that's not a new development (ask the Teapot Dome folks), the 'reinvented government' of the last twenty years has created some perverse incentives. A pendulum swing back to 'in-souring' - ideally in an overall leaner govt (ha!) - is probably necessary.

    And a 'private sector' job that is funded mostly or entirely through government contracts is really a misnomer.

  • Kolohe||

    crap.

  • kc||

    Freddy Mercury before the 'stashe.

  • Barack Obama||

    Geithner said the U.S. economy was "probably just on the verge now, of what we think to be a sustained period of job creation, finally."

    Let me be clear.

    Timmy, you're doing a heck of a job!

  • sage||

    Make All Jobs Government Jobs

    I would say "Don't give those clowns any ideas!" But I'm sure they've already thought of that, and it's in work.

  • ||

    "probably just on the verge now, of what we think to be a sustained period of job creation, finally"

    like, don't get your hopes up, I mean, anything could go wrong, don't bet the farm on it, remember pride goeth before a fall, we're not in Kansas anymore Toto, carry on my wayward son, you're as cold as ice...what was I saying again?

  • adam||

    Your post is so horrendously stupid. I don't even know where to begin.

  • ||

    Learning how to use a comma might be a good start.

  • tony||

    oh boy...sounds like Mussolini's rising!

  • analyst||

    "When dealing with the obtuse triangle of government, government employees and government contractors, you might be tempted to wish that they could all lose their jobs."

    Now this is the one thing that sickens me. I'm all open to the debate over whether government institutionally has too much or too little power BUT it makes no sense to insult the actual Gov't employees. They didn't design the public vs private model; they applied for a job & are doing the job; most that I've worked w/are quite educated 7 hard-working. Besides, if they did all lose their jobs.....wouldn't that make the unemployment rate WORSE?? Do you forget that public employees are also human beings w/families w/small children trying to make ends meet?

    During good economic times, my counterparts in the private sector (finance & accounting line) make a LOT more than me; some over 500K; I make close to the national median. But I don't complain about that-I actually agree w/it as a believer in capitalism; my counterparts take greater risks, don't have the same security as me so let them make astronomically more. But when times are bad, for people to come back & say that oh, we public sector folks should share the pain & be furloughed too...well that sounds a little like.....SOCIALISM!

  • Almanian||

    You stupid motherfucker. Do you know what "socialism" means? No, clearly you do not.

    Now, go fire yourself, wipe Obama's cum off your chin, and spend your spare time studying the meaning of "socialism", and figure out who in the private sector would be dumb enough to hire your useless ass, you fucking parasite.

  • Almanian||

    Other than that, great post, dumbass.

  • Glenn Koons||

    In Ca. and other SEIU-ACORN type states, Mich. especially, unions have huge funds to keep their goody list high on the pol's priorities. What mauls my is that in Ca., CTA, the teacher's union is the largest lobbying unit in Sacramento. It is killing our educational system and continues to stop real innovation in education. In Mich. auto and other machinery unions simply kill free enterprise. And of course, SEIU keeps flailing around making govt. jobs more appealing that profit-making enterprises. Well, if we are all socialists now, perhaps the flag of Venezuela should replace the Stars and Stripes in the WH and in Congress where the real socialists reign.

  • NevadaPundit||

    The problem with...scratch that....the biggest problem with government jobs is that they produce / generate nothing to strengthen the economy, hence, no recovery can be made strictly through public jobs. You can only, at best, maintain the status quo.

  • Jason||

    In the why-didn't-we-think-of-this-sooner department, it's just a matter of time before somebody figures out that you can solve this problem by turning more jobs from private to public.

    The Italians thought of that and implemented in in the first half of the 20th century.

    The easy government segment to expand was the military...

  • ||

    You have 2 "choices":

    1. Work for the government in the operation of prisons.

    2. Be a "tenant" of the prisons.

  • ||

    Some one should tell the "Community Organizer" that growing government is not the same thing as growing business... unemployment is not going down any time soon as long as big government keeps spending and growing as it is under Obama's policies like the Stimulus, Bail-Outs, ObamaCare, and the coming Cap-and-Trade.

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