September 10, 2012

Loss of Government Jobs Equates to about 0.7% to 1% of Unemployment

You may or may not be surprised to know that the number of government jobs  has dropped by about 1 million in the past couple years.    In May of 2010 the government sector employed 22.997 million people.   As of July 2012 there were 21.928M government jobs.   Thats a reduction of 1.069M government jobs.     You can get the specifics on employment by industry in the BLS CES database

Currently the labor force is at 155.013M.   Therefore the contraction of 1.069M government jobs equates to 0.7% of the labor force.   One could conclude that these lost jobs add to the rolls of the unemployed.  

If you consider population growth the impact is higher.   From May 2010 to July 2012 the population grew about 2%.    If government employment had grown along with the population then it would be at 22.997M x 1.02 = 23.45694M.    Thats 1.52894M fewer jobs than we have currently.   This amount is about 1% of the labor force.  

I am not trying to draw any conclusions from this and I don't have a point here.   I just thought it was interesting that the number of government jobs has shrunk that much in the past couple years.  I'm not sure of the exact cause but I'd assume its belt tightening but could also be due to some demographic shifts.

Here are some charts showing the trend in government employment broken down by the various government levels:

All governments:

Notice that big spike in jobs in 2010?   Yeah that sticks out.   Its about 500k leap there in jobs for just a short period.   Odd huh?   I'll discuss that more after looking at the rest of the charts.

Federal government: 
Overall the number of federal jobs has not changed radically since 2010.

But you can see that spike is again shown here in the federal government employment rolls.   Federal jobs went up about 600k briefly in 2010.

You might be interested to know that there were actually more federal government employees in the 1940's and 1960s than there are today.   Here's the longer term trend :
 I suspect that this is large part due to employment in the military.   Particularly given the huge spike in jobs in the 1940's.

From that longer term graph of federal jobs you can also notice those short term spikes in employment every 10 years.   I assume those spokes in employment including the jump in 2010 is due to the US Census hiring temporary workers every 10 years to conduct the Decennial Census.

US Postal Service:
The USPS has been shedding workers pretty quickly for a few years now.   Total employment at USPS peaked at about 900k in April 1999 and has dropped about 1/3 to 609k as of July 2012.   Thats about a -3% annual drop over 13 years.   They've lost about 18% in just the past 4 years.

State governments:
State governments as a whole have shed about 150k jobs, just a 2.8% drop.

Local governments:

Local governments have lost about 500k jobs since 2009 which is about 3.5% cut.



  1. Got to love those census worker spikes. Do you have a bead on how much of those 1940s workers were part of the war effort (or DoD employed in general - while I appreciate a large standing army, it's probably better if we don't need one, right?).

  2. PK : Yeah I wondered about that. I will have another post coming that breaks down the numbers for the federal government jobs. The numbers here are the civilian numbers but a large % of those are Dept. of Defense civilian jobs. So it has civilian DoD jobs but not uniformed military.


I'm starting to get too many spam messages in the comments so I'm turning on moderation. Please be patient and wait for your comment to be approved. Note it may take up to a few days for approval, thanks.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin