Government Employment – Some Charts

In a recent post, my co-blogger Cheryl stated that “government is one of the few growth sectors in employment.”  Following Steve’s suggestion, I decided to see whether BLS data on government employment was consistent with the above statement.  That turns out not to be the case.

First, as shown in Fig. 1, after adjusting for temporary Census employment, the combined payrolls of federal, state, & local governments peak in late 2008, and decline thereafter.

Figure 1

Disaggregating the data paints a somewhat more complex picture.  As seen in Fig. 2, both educational & non-educational components of local government employment have fallen in the last couple years.  The same is true of non-educational state government employees.  Although the state educational & federal payrolls continued to rise as these other categories fell, in the last year even they have begun to decline (see Fig. 3).

Figure 2

Figure 3

Admittedly, government employment did continue rising even after private employment started falling in early 2008.  In the last couple years, however, the reverse has been true.  See Fig. 4.

Figure 4 (1/1/07 = 1)


Historical BLS data came from the following FRED series:

State (ed.) CES9092161101
State (ex ed.) CES9092200001
Local (ed.) CES9093161101
Local (ex ed.) CES9093200001
Total Gov USGOVT
All Private USPRIV

The “Fed (ex Cen)” series is a composite, with data for 11/1/08 through 9/1/10 taken from the seasonally-adjusted figures in BLS’s “Census 2010 temporary and intermittent workers and Federal government employment” publication; and the remaining data taken from FRED’s “All Employees: Government: Federal (CES9091000001)” series.  The “Total Gov (ex Cen)” series sums, for each month, the “Fed (ex Cen)” series, and FRED’s “All Employees: Government: State Government (CES9092000001)” & “All Employees: Government: Local Government (CES9093000001).”  All the FRED data is seasonally adjusted.


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