State and Local Government Employment Trends

The number of employees in state and local governments has been declining since 2008 and represents the largest contraction of public employment in more than 30 years. The loss of jobs in the public sector would have been much more accelerated had it not been for a marked increase in federal aid—primarily the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which helped preserve a significant number of state and local jobs for several years. Those funds are now gone and, while private sector employment has been recovering slowly, many state and local governments continue to cut the number of people they employ.

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In past recessions, state and local government employment was quite stable as compared to private sector employment. Not so for the Great Recession, which began in 2007 and precipitated a downward trend in state government employment.

  • According to the U.S. Census Bureau,1 state and local governments shed a total of 218,367 full-time equivalent—known as FTE—positions from 2009 to 2010, or around 1.3 percent. From 2010 to 2011, state and local governments lost 223,178 FTE jobs, or a drop of about 1.4 percent. That’s nearly half a million jobs lost in two years.
  • Sixteen percent of total U.S. nonfarm employment is in the public sector, including state government employment with 4 percent, local government with 10 percent and federal government with 2 percent.2
  • Census data show that public employment3 in 33 states decreased between 2010 and 2011. Arizona, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey and New York saw the largest declines, each losing more than 4 percent of their employees. When combined, New York (-48,656), California (-33,464) and New Jersey (-22,672) shed more than 100,000 positions. Arkansas, on the other hand, added 7.9 percent more employees to its workforce, which was the largest percent increase of any state.
  • Seventeen states added employees in 2011, ranging from a high of 13,947 FTEs in Arkansas, 6,234 in Utah, a 4.4 percent increase, and 2,946 in Maine, a 4.1 percent increase. Seven of those states whose workforce grew added 500 or fewer FTEs.

 Regional Analysis:

 

  • From 2010 to 2011, state and local government employment shrank the second most in CSG’s Midwestern region, contracting
  • by 2.3 percent, or 73,416 FTE positions, just behind the Eastern region, which contracted by 2.4 percent or 83,204 positions. `` Ten of the 11 states in the region shed public positions from 2010 to 2011. Indiana contracted the most of any state in the region, falling by 4.4 percent (15,310 positions), followed by Michigan, which shrank by 4.3 percent (20,337 positions).
  • North Dakota was the only state in the region to grow, although it did not grow by much—only 1 percent, or 459 positions.

  • From 2010 to 2011, state and local government employment shrank the most in CSG’s Eastern region, contracting by 2.4 percent, or 83,204 FTE positions. The Midwestern region was close behind, shrinking by 2.3 percent, or 73,416 positions.
  • Seven of 11 states in the region shed public positions from 2010 to 2011. New Jersey cut its workforce the most of any state in the region, falling by 4.4 percent (22,672 positions), followed by New York, which shrank its workforce by 4 percent (48,656 positions).
  • For the four states in the region that expanded, Maine grew the most, by 4.1 percent or 2,946 positions, followed by Maryland (1.5 percent or 4,500 positions), Delaware (1 percent or 513 positions) and Rhode Island (0.5 percent or 256 positions).

  • From 2010 to 2011, state and local government employment in CSG’s Southern shrank the least of any CSG region, contracting by 0.3 percent, or 21,341 FTE positions. The Western region, by contrast, dropped by 1.4 percent, or 49,641 positions, while the Midwestern and Eastern Regions each contracted by 2.3 percent or more.
  • Nine of 15 states in the region shed public positions from 2010 to 2011. Florida contracted the most of any state in the region, falling by 2.2 percent (19,814 positions), followed by Florida, which also shrank by 2.2 percent (7,223 positions).
  • Of the six states to expand public employment from 2010 to 2011, Arkansas was an outlier for both the region and the nation, growing by 7.9 percent, or 13,947 positions. West Virginia is a distant second, growing by 1.9 percent, or 1,977 positions.

  • From 2010 to 2011, state and local government employment in CSG’s Western region contracted by 1.4 percent, or 49,641 FTE positions. That rate fell between the contraction rates of the Southern region (0.3 percent) and the Midwestern region (2.3 percent).
  • Seven of the 13 states in the region shed public positions from 2010 to 2011. A majority of those regional losses came from California, which dropped 33,464 positions over the period. As a percentage change over time, however, Arizona contracted more than California, shrinking by 4.8 percent, or 14,090 positions.
  • For the six states in the region that expanded, only two grew by more than 500 positions: Utah grew by 4.4 percent, or 6,235 positions, and Wyoming grew by 3.8 percent, or 1,919 positions.

References

1U.S. Census Bureau, 2011 Annual Survey of Public Employment and Payroll, http://www.census.gov/govs/apes/

2U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment, Hours, and Earnings (CES) database, http://www.bls.gov/webapps/legacy/cesbtab1.htm

3Full time equivalent state and local government employees

State and Local Government Employment Trends