"State and Local Governments Are Hiring at the Fastest Pace in Four Years"


Remember all the stories from a month or so ago about how job cuts from state and local government payrolls were killing America's past, present, and future? Those apocalyptic visions of unemployed teachers roaming the streets like the Baseball Furies from The Warriors? For god's sake, didn't we understand that a 1.3 percent cut in state jobs and a 2.8 percent cut local in government jobs since 2008 was the very reason that unemployment was over 8 percent rather than over 7 percent (never mind that either figure was well above what the Obama administration had promised when it passed its $800 billion stimulus)?

Well, cheer up, public sector America! Because it turns out that the sun is rising yet again. From USA Today:

States, cities, counties and school districts hired 828,000 workers in the first four months of the year, up 20% from a year earlier, and the most since 2008, according to a USA TODAY analysis of the government's Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. The number of job openings at state and local governments also hit a four-year high.

This lift in government hiring shows how state budget problems have eased in recent months as tax collections have improved. Total revenue is flat because extra federal aid is drying up. But tax money revenue generally is spent on workers, especially at the local level, while federal aid is often dedicated to outside vendors, such as health care providers in the Medicaid program and highway contractors….

Dennis Cauchon explains that state and local goverments currently employ about 19.6 million people, "down 3% from the peak" in 2008. He further notes that the private sector is starting to pick up too:

Private companies are hiring a little more, too, up 4% in the first four months of 2012 from a year earlier. That's a weak rebound when measured against hiring declines every year from 2006 to 2009, including a 20% hiring drop in 2009.

The hiring turnaround has been most dramatic, starting last August, in the nation's state and local governments. These 89,500 cities, park districts, sewer systems and other governments are a backbone of working-class America, employing millions of low-profile truck drivers, health care aides and motor vehicle clerks with decent pay, good benefits and exceptional job security.

Read the whole thing.

As I noted in a June 22 piece, "Should We Hire Even More Teachers, Cops, and Firemen?," there's a real economic downside to state and local governments going on hiring and spending sprees.

Nick Gillespie is co-author with Matt Welch of The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America, now out in paperback with a new foreword. Follow him on Twitter.

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  1. Government jobs are paid for with private sector money. Government at all levels tried to avoid firing anyone (aided by the feds borrowing money) in the hope that the recession would be short and cyclical, not requiring a major adjustment.

    Given those explicit policies (especially the subsidies to avoid laying off government employees in the stimulus), it’s entirely unsurprising that it took a delay until government jobs shrunk. However, eventually reality won out, as it does.

  2. Oh no, now the private sector will have a much harder time finding useless do-nothings to hire.

  3. You should probably note that the graphic at the top of your article is not from the USA Today piece, but is rather an unrelated graphic from the Heritage foundation.

    1. “unrelated”

  4. The public sector is dong fine?

    1. Now that they don’t have to worry about losing their obviously constitutional government provided healthcare, yup!

  5. Government jobs are going up by nearly 20% and private jobs by 4%

    There is a multiplier effect. It’s 0.25

  6. America is going under again. This is but a temporary upward blip. The Pubsec parasites will be back where they belong soon. In the unemployment line.

  7. I can’t prove it, but this economic news is so “good” that I can’t help but suspect that the rosier times for state and local government budgets are courtesy of the Fed’s printing presses. That is to say, state and local governments could be the first recipients of the latest wave of newly authorized, inflationary cash. We should keep an eye on this.

  8. According to a 2011 study by the Knowledge is Power Program, only about 31% of Americans between the ages of 25 and 29 have a bachelor’s degree or higher. In order to assist those with out degree we need High Speed Universities online

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