Public Employment Level Still Far Behind Pre-Recession Peak

The good news is the number of private sector jobs has finally recovered to pre-recession levels, the number of government jobs are still lagging behind.
David Leonhardt notes that Friday’s jobs report shows the number of public sector jobs in federal, state and local governments have aren’t even close to their pre-recession levels.

Take a look at this graphic:

In fact, public-sector employment has barely begun to recover. It reached a recent low of 21.83 million jobs in December and now has 21.87 jobs. Many state and local governments cut jobs sharply to deal with budget deficits during the recession. The federal government also employs somewhat fewer people than it did in December 2007.

Cutting government spending — and jobs — obviously can bring benefits, in that it saves taxpayers money and can help address the country’s long-term budget problems. But those problems really are long-term, stemming from the aging of the baby boomers and the growth of health costs. The federal deficit today is at a level many economists consider manageable. And the recent cuts in government jobs stand in stark contrast to the government’s expansion in the wakeof the recessions in the 1980s and 1990s.

If the government hadn’t done so much cutting over the last several years, the job market would almost certainly be healthier today.