State and Local Governments Drop Over 200,000 Jobs

According to new data from the Census Bureau's Annual Survey of Public Employment and Payroll, state and local governments lost 203,321 jobs last year. John Lonski, chief economist for Moody's Capital Markets Research told Reuters that “we are looking at the worst contraction of state and local government employment since 1981.”

State Government Employment

The Census data show that most state governments saw decreases in full-time or FTE employment between 2009 and 2010. Idaho, Connecticut and Rhode Island saw the largest declines, each losing about 5% of its employees. Texas, on the other hand, actually added 5.6% more employees to its workforce, which was the largest percent increase of any state.  

Thirteen states added employees in 2010, ranging from a high of 17,800 FTE’s in Texas, 4,365 in Pennsylvania (+2.6%) and 4,334 in North Carolina (+2.6%).  Five of those 13 states whose workforce grew added around 500 or fewer FTE’s.

Change in State Government Employment, 2009-2010

Author's calculations of data from the U.S. Census Bureau 

With respect to their part-time workforce, most state governments reported increases.  Wisconsin added the most - 5,063 part-time employees - followed by California with an increase of 2,836 part-time employees. Florida saw the largest loss in part-time employment (7.5%), dropping about 3,555 employees.

In 2010, state governments employed 4.38 million FTE’s. The largest employment category by far was education, with 41.61% of state FTE’s employed in that field.  Corrections took another big chunk with 10.77%, followed by hospitals (9.33%), public welfare (5.38%) and highways (5.26%).

Government Function as a Percentage of Total State FTE Employment, 2010

Author's calculations of data from the U.S. Census Bureau 

State and Local Government Employment

There were 90,740 state and local governments across the country in 2010 and those governments employed 16.6 million FTE’s.  Compared to 2009, that’s a decrease of 203,321 FTE’s. The largest number of those employees worked in education.

In 2010, there were nearly 9 million FTE state and local employees working in education, including higher, elementary and secondary education, representing 54% of all state and local FTE employment.  The next largest functions of state and local employment included hospitals (5.9%), police (5.7%), corrections (4.4%), highways (3.2%) and public welfare (3.1%).  

Government Function as a Percentage of Total State and Local FTE Employment EXCLUDING Education, 2010

Author's calculations of data from the U.S. Census Bureau