The Public Sector’s Sluggish Job Market

The number of private-sector jobs in the United States is growing faster than public-sector jobs across all levels of government – 2.1% compared to just 0.4% over the past twelve months. In fact, local government employment, the largest segment of the public sector, has actually been falling in recent months.

sluggish job marketThe shrinking of public-sector employment has severely hurt the ability of minority communities to recover from the recession and enter or stay in the middle class. Furthermore, recent research reported in Governing shows that African Americans are more likely to be laid off during government cutbacks.

A study published earlier this year by the University of Washington’s Jennifer Laird uncovered stark differences in how public-sector workers fared in the aftermath of the recession. An analysis of U.S. Labor Department data found that the odds of losing a job had climbed much faster for black government workers than for their white colleagues. Disparities were most severe for black women in government, who were more than twice as likely to experience unemployment as were white women….

Many laid-off minority workers have struggled to regain their footing in either the public or private sectors. Among government workers who lost their jobs between 2009 and 2013, black men were most likely to remain unemployed. Black women were the least likely to find jobs in the private sector, and the most likely to cease their job search and exit the labor force entirely. “It’s a permanent result of [government] contraction,” Laird says.

In addition to holding back the economic recovery, the decrease in public-sector jobs often hurts the quality of public services. Regardless, remember to thank the government employees you deal with, because chances are their workloads have gone up, their salaries haven’t kept up, and they are working as hard as they can.

 

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