2011 was a bad year for public sector employees, with an average of 22,000 public sector jobs disappearing every month. And the two years before it weren’t much better. In fact, “the last three years of job losses at the state and local government level has been the most dramatic since Labor Department records began in 1955.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, the unemployment rate would be a full point lower — at 7.1 percent — if these job losses hadn’t happened:
The Labor Department’s establishment survey of employers — the jobs count that it bases its payroll figures on — shows that the government has been steadily shedding workers since the crisis struck, with 586,000 fewer jobs than in December 2008. Friday’s employment report showed the cuts continued in April, with 15,000 government jobs lost. [...]
The unemployment rate would be far lower if it hadn’t been for those cuts: If there were as many people working in government as there were in December 2008, the unemployment rate in April would have been 7.1%, not 8.1%.
These cuts have occurred because of state budget cuts as well as budget cuts at the federal level. President Obama addressed this issue today, saying, “the only time government employment has gone down during a recession has been under me. So I make that point just so you don’t buy into this whole bloated government argument that you’re hearing.”