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The Ongoing Conservative Recovery

By Matthew Yglesias  

"The Ongoing Conservative Recovery"

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The private sector added 83,000 jobs in May. That’s not a very good number, but it’s an okay one. It’s especially okay when you see it in the context of increased hours worked per employed person leading to increased earnings. You could see this as employers continuing to increase their demand for labor, but in a slightly cautious way. A month of treading water on the jobs front but with indicators that we’re due for a better number soon. But instead of adding tens of thousands of new public employees to complement the expansion, we shed 29,000 public sector workers. That led to an aggregate figure of 54,000 new net jobs.

To me, that’s terrible.

But it’s crucial to understand what it is, which is the same thing we’ve been dealing with for a long time now. Over the past year, we’ve consistently seen the economy engage in so-so private sector job growth offset by job losses in the public sector. The results are, if you ask me, bad. But in a decent world, conservatives would be forced to acknowledge that these are the results they claim to want. The private sector’s not being held back by the grasping arm of big government. Government is shrinking. And the shrinking of the government sector isn’t leading to any kind of private sector explosion. It’s simply offsetting meager private sector growth. Indeed, I’d say it’s holding it back. Fewer state and local government layoffs would mean more customers for private businesses and even stronger growth on the private side.

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