Data Alert - State and Local Government Employment Down in 31 States

DATA ALERT

July 23, 2010



Contact: Heather Trela – (518) 443-5831 / communications@rockinst.org

State and Local Government Employment Is Down in 31 States – And Up In 18 –
Compared With A Year Ago

By Donald J. Boyd and Lucy Dadayan

Earlier this week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released state-by-state employment data for the month of June. While national totals had already been released for June, this is the first look at June data for individual states. The national data had shown a very slight increase in private sector employment, compared with May, and slight continued declines in state and local government employment (see Figure 1). This is broadly consistent with past recessions, in which state and local government employment has been far more stable than private sector employment, and in fact rarely declined at all. As in past recessions, state and local government employment changes tend to lag responses in the private sector.

Annual Percentage Changes in K-12 Capital and Operations Spending Per Pupil, 1982-2006

As Table 1 shows, state and local government employment is down for the months of April-June in 31 states, relative to year-earlier levels. (To reduce "bounciness" in the data, we average state-by-state data for April through June.) State government employment is down in 28 states, and local government employment is down in 30 states. (This table is based on seasonally unadjusted data. We use the unadjusted data because they are available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for more states than are seasonally adjusted data, but because they are not adjusted for seasonal fluctuations we compare to the same period from a year earlier rather than to recent months.) The table also shows private-sector employment, which is down in 44 states. The state and local government declines, while widespread, are nowhere near as large or as numerous as the declines in private sector employment. For the nation as a whole, state government employment is down 0.8 percent from its post-recession peak, and local government employment is down 1.4 percent from the post-recession peak. By contrast, private sector employment is down 6.8 percent.

 

Table 1: State and Local Government Employment is Down in 31 States vs. a Year Earlier

Private, state and local government employment, April-June, 2009 to 2010
Percent Change

 
 
State Private State Local State-Local
Hawaii (0.1) (4.5) (0.7) (3.8)
Nevada (3.2) 0.8 (5.1) (3.6)
Arizona (0.8) (3.8) (2.6) (2.8)
Virginia (0.3) 0.7 (3.8) (2.5)
Rhode Island (2.7) (0.0) (3.2) (2.2)
Michigan (0.4) 0.5 (3.0) (2.0)
Maine (1.6) (2.0) (1.9) (1.9)
New York (0.3) (2.5) (1.7) (1.9)
California (2.1) (2.7) (1.6) (1.8)
Maryland (0.4) (0.8) (2.2) (1.8)
Oklahoma (1.2) (1.6) (1.5) (1.5)
Connecticut (0.5) (4.2) (0.4) (1.5)
West Virginia (1.0) (1.0) (1.8) (1.5)
Washington (1.3) (2.5) (1.0) (1.5)
Illinois (1.3) (1.0) (1.4) (1.3)
Kansas (1.4) (1.9) (1.1) (1.3)
Indiana 0.7 (2.6) (0.6) (1.1)
Ohio (1.0) 1.1 (1.5) (0.9)
Georgia (2.4) (0.6) (0.8) (0.8)
Vermont (1.6) (3.0) 0.5 (0.7)
Alabama (1.7) (0.6) (0.7) (0.7)
Iowa (0.3) (1.9) 0.0 (0.5)
Mississippi (1.6) (0.2) (0.5) (0.4)
New Mexico (2.4) (1.7) 0.3 (0.4)
Tennessee (0.5) (0.2) (0.2) (0.2)
Pennsylvania (0.2) (0.4) (0.1) (0.2)
Florida (1.3) 1.8 (0.7) (0.2)
Louisiana (0.6) (1.2) 0.4 (0.2)
Kentucky 0.6 0.6 (0.5) (0.1)
Utah 0.4 0.2 (0.3) (0.1)
Idaho (0.8) (6.9) 2.7 (0.0)
Wisconsin (1.5) (4.2) 1.5 0.0
Colorado (2.7) 2.3 (0.7) 0.1
New Jersey (1.3) (1.3) 0.6 0.1
Oregon (1.8) 1.3 (0.3) 0.2
Nebraska (0.5) 0.9 0.1 0.3
Minnesota (0.4) (0.5) 0.7 0.4
Massachusetts (0.4) 3.5 (0.8) 0.5
Arkansas (1.0) 2.2 (0.5) 0.5
New Hampshire 0.5 0.4 0.6 0.6
South Dakota (0.4) (0.2) 1.0 0.7
Wyoming (2.3) 0.0 1.0 0.8
North Dakota 1.2 2.4 0.0 0.8
Missouri (1.3) 0.8 1.7 1.5
Delaware (0.9) 1.5 1.7 1.6
Alaska 0.3 2.9 0.9 1.6
Texas (0.2) 0.7 2.1 1.8
South Carolina (0.4) (1.0) 3.2 1.9
Montana (1.8) 0.5 3.3 2.4
North Carolina (0.7) 3.5 3.6 3.5
       
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (CES, seasonally unadjusted).

 

Figure 2 shows the size of decline in state government and local government employment, by state. North Carolina, Delaware and a dozen or so other states showed larger-than-average gains in both state and local government employment, while Arizona, New York, California and a number of others showed larger-than-average declines in both sectors over the year.

Figure 2: Percent Change in State and Local Government Employment

Percent change in employment, April-June, 2009-2010 (Red lines are means)

Annual Percentage Changes in K-12 Capital and Operations Spending Per Pupil, 1982-2006

Local government employment is at least 2-3 times as large as state government employment in most states, and it accounts by far for the largest number of government jobs lost in the current recession. Elementary and secondary education tends to dominate local government employment, although non-education employment is down as well. Figure 3 shows that the decline in education employment is far greater in this recession than in other recent recessions, and is comparable to declines in the 1980 double-dip recession, when local government employment was influenced significantly by property tax revolts and limitations. For the nation as a whole, local government education employment was down 1.3 percent from its post-recession peak, and non-education employment was down 1.8 percent, with each accounting for declines of somewhat over 100,000 jobs.

Annual Percentage Changes in K-12 Capital and Operations Spending Per Pupil, 1982-2006

Table 2 shows the latest data on local government education employment, in the 35 states for which BLS reported such data on a monthly basis. The largest reductions appear in Michigan and Maryland, while 11 other states (among those for which we have data) have seen declines in local education positions over the past year. Another 21 states had employment increases in this sector.

With states continuing to face harsh fiscal realities, declines in education employment are likely just beginning. Education employment in particular has been propped up by federal stimulus funds, which have been nearly exhausted in many states and will be essentially unavailable after the 2010-11 school year. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many school districts around the country have been reducing teaching positions by attrition and by laying off teachers for the 2010-11 school year. More layoffs and other reductions are likely in the following year. Reductions in teacher positions generally appear to show up in BLS employment data in the months of July, August, and September, so we expect the next three months to be particularly important indicators of the extent to which local government education jobs are being cut.

Table 2: Local Government Educational Services Employment

April-June 2010,compared with same months of year ago
Percent change

State April-June, 2009 April-June, 2010 % change,
2009 vs. 2010
Michigan 726.5 704.5 (3.0)
Maryland 487.7 476.4 (2.3)
Arizona 441.6 434.5 (1.6)
Kentucky 350.9 345.3 (1.6)
Georgia 799.7 788.9 (1.4)
Iowa 308.2 304.6 (1.2)
Illinois 1,104.9 1,092.7 (1.1)
Alabama 317.1 313.9 (1.0)
California 2,962.4 2,937.6 (0.8)
Washington 485.5 482.7 (0.6)
Indiana 468.6 466.2 (0.5)
Massachusetts 524.9 522.9 (0.4)
Tennessee 420.3 419.4 (0.2)
Mississippi 262.8 262.8 0.0
Montana 87.4 87.5 0.1
Delaware 54.3 54.4 0.2
Oregon 326.2 327.0 0.2
North Dakota 62.7 63.0 0.5
Minnesota 430.8 433.1 0.5
Colorado 390.7 392.8 0.5
Utah 201.0 202.2 0.6
Ohio 892.4 898.0 0.6
South Dakota 78.1 78.6 0.6
Connecticut 293.6 296.1 0.9
Wyoming 75.0 75.7 0.9
Pennsylvania 933.8 942.7 1.0
New Mexico 176.1 178.7 1.5
Wisconsin 492.1 499.6 1.5
North Carolina 693.7 704.9 1.6
Nebraska 186.8 190.1 1.8
Idaho 126.1 128.8 2.1
New Jersey 852.2 870.6 2.2
Texas 2,490.1 2,562.4 2.9
Alaska 70.4 72.6 3.1
South Carolina 334.2 363.6 8.8
       
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (CES, seasonally unadjusted).

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