State, local workforces get smaller
Cuts biggest in 5 decades
CAPITOL New York’s public workforce has gotten smaller since the recession begin in late 2007, according to a new report from the Rockefeller Institute of Government at the University at Albany.
The state numbers aren’t unique.
The report shows that the U.S. recession resulted in the deepest cuts to state and local government employment in five decades.
As of December, state and local government employment throughout the nation was down 3.4 percent, or 681,000 jobs, from the peak level recorded in August 2008, according to the report, titled “The Depth and Length of Cuts in State-Local Government Employment is Unprecedented.”
Lucy Dadayan, a senior policy analyst at the Rockefeller Institute, said that New York is “in the middle of the pack” when it comes to government job losses.
Between August 2008 and November 2012, New York has lost about 25,000 state and local government jobs. The number of state government jobs dropped by 0.8 percent, and the number of local government jobs dropped by 2 percent.
Dadayan said that more government job losses are likely, in New York and nationally. “The nationwide trends for state and local government employment are downward,” she said, due to budget pressures.
She said these cuts have “serious short-term and long-term consequences. As we know, recession leads to more demand for public services. However, the large cuts in public workforce means governments might not be able to meet the demand for government services and may reduce the quality and quantity of such services.”
The recession officially ended in mid-2009, but job growth has been slow and the country’s unemployment rate — 7.9 percent — remains high. In New York, it’s even higher — about 8.2 percent.
Job gains in the private sector have been offset by losses in the public sector, the report explains.
“While private sector employment has been slowly recovering over the last three years, state and local governments have been shedding jobs almost continuously since 2008,” the report states.
According to the New York State Department of Labor, the state added 34,000 private sector jobs in December, but lost 1,500 government jobs. Only two other areas saw a decline in jobs in December: manufacturing and construction.
The Capital Region, where state government is based, added just 400 jobs in December, according to the state Department of Labor.
During the past year, state and local governments cut a total of about 489,000 jobs, a decline of 2.5 percent, according to the report.
Local governments have been hit harder, with the local government workforce declining 3.7 percent since August 2008 and the state government workforce declining 2.6 percent during that time. At the state level, the cuts have occurred among non-education jobs, while state jobs in education have grown; at the local level, the cuts to education have been greater than cuts to other areas.