Private sector job growth has been doing okay for the past year. Not great. And we really need a stretch of “great” performance to soak up the huge number of unemployed people. But still: It’s been okay. As I’ve been emphasizing, the problem is that month after month, we have this so-so job growth in the private sector clawed back by big-time cutbacks in state and (especially) local government. A recent Brookings report looking at the recovery on the metro area scale again confirms the centrality of public sector trends:
Nearly all the metropolitan areas whose economies suffered the least since the start of the Great Recession had increases in government employment, while most of those that suffered the most lost government jobs. Seventeen of the 20 metropolitan areas that have had the strongest overall economic performance since the start of the recession (all except Augusta, Buffalo, and Columbus) gained government jobs since their periods of peak total employment. Fourteen of the 20 that had the weakest overall performance (all except Bakersfield, Boise, Cape Coral, Jacksonville, Lakeland, and Tampa) lost government jobs since hitting their total employment peaks.
The structural shift away from government work is something conservatives claim to want. But the overall impact of shedding public sector workers in a high unemployment environment is quite negative.