Press Release COVID-19 Education Employment Government United States

Trends in State and Local Government 

July 26, 2023

Contact: Kelsey Moore, 8623241213Mail_Outline

Washington, DC — In a new report published today, the Center for Economic and Policy Research’s (CEPR’s) Sylvia Allegretto, Hayley Brown, and Emma Curchin analyze employment trends in state and local public sector jobs following the Great Recession of 2008. Unlike most prior recessions, these public sector jobs struggled to recover – and in some cases, never fully came back by the time the COVID-19 pandemic’s recession hit. 

The degree of recovery varied greatly across states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. When population changes were taken into account, the relative public sector workforces in most states were far short of what they were prior to the Great Recession. 

“It is via dedicated public servants that the public is able to realize its investment in itself,” said Allegretto. A shrunken public sector workforce has negative ripple effects for communities.  

The report also puts trends in public education employment in focus, highlighting the ways students suffer during economic downturns. There were massive shortfalls in public sector local education employment, which remains deteriorated today.  

The loss of public sector jobs to both outright cuts and privatization has corrosive effects on communities – and can lead to greater costs down the line. State and local government jobs are disproportionately held by Black workers, making cuts and privatization especially damaging to progress toward racial equality. 

“Eliminating public workers means less of the public’s work gets done,” said Brown. 

“Trends in State and Local Government” can be read here


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