Very sanctimonious op-ed piece in the NYT indicting the GOP for tough times for state and local governments. This is the kind of thing that drives economic conservatives crazy.
Source: New York Times: A Growing Gloom for States and Cities
“Washington should have been trying to find a way to help states avoid the layoffs and cutbacks that have contributed heavily to the high unemployment rate.”
“The Republicans who produced this artificial crisis, and are responsible for its effects, say they would like nothing more than to see a reduction in state as well as federal spending. That is where government hits closest to home, affecting the size of classrooms, the bulbs in streetlights, the asphalt in potholes, and the lines in emergency rooms.”
I have two problems with this.
First, here and elsewhere liberals lament the loss of any amount of gov’t jobs even as the job losses in the private sector are many, many times larger – at least 10:1 if not a lot higher.
Here is a chart showing North Carolina data. It shows that in the state during the period of the Great Recession, 311,400 private sector jobs were lost (8.90% loss) while public sector has actually added 500 jobs (0.07% gain).
Source: Carolina Journal: Government Jobs Untouched by the Great Recession
I have seen this type of data before at the national level, but not having any luck finding it just now.
Ah, here’s something recent that shows percentage change in employment in private sector vs. state and local governments (still looking for Federal).
Source: Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, at the University at Albany: State and Local Government Employment Shows Broad, Continuing Declines
So we see that after initially rising during the heart of the recession, state and local governments have now been contracting for some months. Sure, this is an issue, but even after recovering from the deepest trough, private employment is still down over 5% whereas public employment is down by only 2%. Is that really so unfair given the severity of what we are going thru?
And here’s some reasonably current data showing federal employment: it’s up!! 98,000 more federal government jobs at the end of 2010 than at the outset of the recession. Yikes. That’s totally ridiculous. Even worse, most of those jobs are probably new regulatory positions to implement rules to clamp down on the private sector. Ugh.
Source: George Mason University: Even Accounting for Census, Federal Employment Grows During Recession
Then my second problem is the unquestioned assumption that the federal gov’t has the obligation to subsidize states so heavily even as many of them have grossly overspent just like the Feds. States need to be figuring out how to tighten their belts just like everybody else. If they don’t have enough money, they should figure out how to deliver more with less – businesses have been doing for decades. It is a skill set government needs to learn – and fast.