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American Prospects

Hey! Hey! Government Is Hiring Again

October 5, 2012

Here's one very interesting piece of news from today's jobs report: The public sector has stopped firing people and started hiring. According to the report, government at all levels has added 68,000 workers in the past three months.

This hiring spree comes after three years of nearly non-stop government layoffs, with over 600,000 public sector workers losing their jobs?including over 200,000 teachers or other school workers. The downsizing of government amid hard times has been one of the most preventable aspects of the unemployment crisis. Americans have wanted government to solve this problem, and instead government made it worse?specifically, by Congress's failure to provide enough federal assistance to states facing shortfalls.

More government hiring suggests that revenues of state and local governments are picking up again. But these entities are not out of the woods by a long shot and federal aid is still badly needed if Washington is truly interested in speeding up the economic recovery. As the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities noted a few months ago:

The budget gaps that states have had to close for fiscal year 2013, the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2012, total $55 billion in 31 states. That amount is smaller than in past years, but still very large by historical standards. States? actions to close those gaps, in turn, are further delaying the nation?s economic recovery.

The outcome of the election in November could make a big difference in state and local budgets?and thus the fate of those people who work for government at this level. Commenting on the Ryan budget, the Center notes:

If it fails to include significant new revenues, a major legislative package to shrink federal deficits would almost certainly make deep cuts in federal funds that support states and localities as they perform many basic public functions, including educating children, building roads and bridges, protecting public health, and providing law enforcement.

Education is the biggest source of public sector jobs. Today's jobs numbers show that state and local governments are hiring teachers again. (h/t Matt Yglesias)

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