One Key Sector That's Still Shedding Jobs
Maybe we've got ourselves a recovery after all.
The economy has now been adding jobs for 16 months in a row, with an acceleration in hiring that has surprised nearly every prognosticator. The latest jobs report shows that the economy added 243,000 jobs in January, with healthy gains in professional services, manufacturing, hospitality, and even construction. There's still a long way to go before the economy is truly healthy, but each small gain helps repair the damage caused by a crushing recession.
One sector, however, continues to shed jobs, a trend that could impact not just the economy but the November elections as well. Government, which accounts for about 17 percent of the nation's workforce, has lost about 60,000 jobs since 2009, with no sign that the gradual downdrift in employment will turn around any time soon.
A shrinking government sector can drag down overall economic activity, since government jobs tend to be stable, good-paying ones that generate a meaningful amount of consumer spending. But smaller government is also a rallying cry for the
The changes vary by level of government, however, and they haven't necessarily occurred where voters want them to. There's been a sharp decline in the size of local government, for instance, while the federal bureaucracy has gotten slightly larger. Here's a breakdown:
President Obama may claim that the government he leads has gotten better under his watch, but he can't claim that it's gotten smaller. Overall, the federal bureaucracy has grown by about 39,000 workers since Obama took office at the beginning of 2009. That includes a loss of about 111,000 jobs at the troubled postal service, and a gain of 53,000
The size of the federal workforce may have peaked, however. The postal service is likely to continue shrinking, and fresh cuts are coming in defense. Many agencies have hiring freezes in place, and cuts in discretionary spending due to begin in 2013 seem certain to further shrink the federal payroll. Intensifying budget pressures could compel whoever wins the presidency in November to enact even bigger cuts in 2013 and beyond. So
This level of government gets less attention than the feds in
Employment in state-run education, including public universities, is slightly higher than it was three years ago. But to protect education, many states have raised taxes and fees by about as much as taxpayers are likely to tolerate. Ongoing budget pressure and a pushback against new taxes probably mean that state employment will continue a gradual decline.
This is the biggest layer of government, with about 14 million workers. Local government has also seen the biggest cuts, with about 500,000 jobs lost over the last three years. These losses are often the ones that ordinary people feel most, since they affect cops, firefighters, teachers, garbage collectors, and the folks who man city-hall agencies. As many parents know, school districts have been under particular pressure. Total job cuts in local education since 2009: 243,000.
With many schools and other municipal functions funded by property taxes, the pressure on local budgets will probably continue as long as the housing bust persists. Some economists think the housing market could start to turn around in 2013, but even if it does, a recovery is likely to be slow and uneven. That will probably subdue the size of local government for years. City hall isn't necessarily the first target of small-government activists, but it may be a harbinger of things to come in
- Tensions in Middle East Fan Fears of Sharp Gas Price Hikes
- Inflation Outpacing Compensation for U.S. Workers
- The Myth of Economic Inequality
- Occupy Wall Street Must Learn That We Are What We Buy
- Six Unusual Economic Indicators
- Housing Market Improves, but Growth Years Away
- Could Strong Chinese Currency Boost U.S. Economy?
- The Downward Mobility of the American Middle Class
- Unemployment: Fudging the Numbers
- Why the Fed is Lukewarm on the Economic Recovery
- Are Student Loans the Next Debt Bomb?
- One Key Sector That's Still Shedding Jobs
- Globalizing Private Sector, Government Overwhelmed by Corporate Money
Americans Spent Less:
Why That's a Good Thing
- Improving Economy Driving Independents Back to Obama
- Europe Needs a Marshall Plan
- Are We Entering a Jobless Recovery?
- GDP Growth Fastest Since Early 2010
- Good News and Bad News about GDP Growth
- Over-Saving Caused the Economic Crisis
- To Spur Economy, United States Must Reform Legal Immigration
- Immobility Nation
- United States 'Saudi Arabia of Natural Gas'
- Will Gas Prices Grow to $5 a Gallon?
- Fed Opens Up on Interest Rate, Inflation Predictions
- Obama to Save Economy With More Tourist Visas?
- Will Obama's Mortgage Refinance Plan Be D.O.A.?
- Top 5 Global Risks for 2012
- Lower Inflation Gives The Fed More Leeway in 2012
- What's in Store for Jobs in 2012?
- Our Challenge for 2012: Get Americans Working
- The Rebirth of Social Darwinism
- H-1B Workers in a State of Indentured Servitude
- Abuse of the H-1B Visa Program Is Widespread
- H-1B Visas a Symptom of Special-Interest Influence
- More Green Cards, Not H-1B Visas, Is the Real Fix
- We Are Creating a Dependency on H-1B Workers
- Unfilled Positions Reduce Productivity
- H-1Bs Are Simply Too Difficult to Get
- Most Immigrants Create Jobs
- White House Reiterates Urgency to Renew Payroll Tax Cut Bill
- Homegrown Obstacles to the Economic Recovery
- Does Extending Jobless Benefits Help the Economy?
- Men Continue To Fare Badly in This Economy
- Public Blames Congress, Not Obama, For Sour Economy
- Restore the Basic Bargain
- A Main Street Jobs Agenda
- Who Says Wall Street Isn't Hurting?
- Road Map to a Housing Rebound
- Housing Prices Drop Back to 2003 Levels
- GOP 2012 Candidates Split on Payroll Tax Cut
- We Need to Focus on the 99 Percent
- A More Permanent Solution Is Needed
- Keynesian Policies Have Failed
- Many Time-limited Tax Breaks Never Die
- A Strong Recovery Remains Elusive
- An Economic Loser in the Long Run
- Extending Payroll Tax Cut Will Extend U.S. Debt
- Jobs Report: A Glimmer of Hope for the Housing Market?
- Unemployment Rate Drops to 8.6 Percent
- Beige Book Shows Stronger Growth, but Europe a Major Threat
- What Happens If We End the Fed?
- Online Shopping Deals Hurt State Budgets
- 5 Reasons the Economy Will Be Better in 2012
One Key Sector That's Still Shedding Jobs | Politics
Copyright © 2012 Tribune Media Services