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Public-sector employment below pre-recession levels.

Private-sector employment has shown relatively strong growth of late, but state and local government employment remains lower than the levels reported at the start of the Great Recession in December 2007, according to a recent Rockefeller Institute of Government data alert. According to the institute's analysis, total non-farm employment has risen by 1.4 percent, or 2 million jobs, since the start of the Great Recession in December 2007, with private-sector employment growing by 2.1 percent (2.4 million jobs). While private-sector employment has improved substantially, state and local government employment remains below pre-recession levels: Employment is down by 1.1 percent (-54,000 jobs) for state government and by 2.3 percent (-340,000 jobs) for local government.

State and local government employment often lags in starting to show the effects of a recession, so making sense of the data includes examining changes compared to the recession's peak as well as its start. Private-sector employment began declining in February 2008, almost immediately after the start of the recession. State and local government employment continued growing for several months after the start of the recession and reached peak levels in August 2008. Cuts have been large and prolonged since then.

"State and local government employment is far weaker seven years after the start of the Great Recession than it was seven years after the start of any of the previous four recessions," according to the report. "On average, state and local government employment was up 8.1 percent seven years after the start of the previous four recessions."

Overall, local government employment is about two to three times as large as state government employment in most states, and it accounts for the largest number by far of government jobs lost in the current recession, according to the report. "Education jobs constitute a little more than half of total local government employment, and almost half of total state government employment. Local government education employment primarily reflects K-12 education, and state government education employment primarily reflects higher education."

The report points out a striking decline in local government employment: "Local government employment rose until its July 2008 peak of 14.6 million jobs, then fell slowly for about a year. Both local government education and non-education employment showed sharp and persistent cuts from mid-2009 through the end of 2012 and sluggish growth throughout 2013 and 2014. Local government education employment is now down 302,200 jobs, or 3.7 percent from its July 2008 peak; local government non-education employment is down by 183,000 jobs, or 2.8 percent from its December 2008 peak."

The data alert is available at www. rockinst.org.

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Title Annotation:News & Numbers
Publication:Government Finance Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2015
Words:442
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