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.