Firing Government Workers Leads To A Reduction In Overall Levels Of Employment

Here’s a look at your year-to-year changes in aggregate employment:

What happened in New Jersey? Well, Chris Christie happened: “New Jersey’s job losses were almost entirely due to cuts in government employment.”

There’s a case to be made, clearly, that laying off government workers and using the savings to cut taxes on rich people will boost economic growth over the long run. But insofar as what you’re interested in is this recession right now it makes things worse. And for the past year this has been the main story of the labor market—private sector growth partially offset by public sector layoffs. You can like that pattern or you can dislike it, but what you can’t do is what conservatives have been doing—implementing the layoffs and then complaining that Barack Obama’s not doing enough to boost short-term job growth.