Washington, D.C. — A new analysis from the Center for American Progress finds that there are 695,000 fewer people employed in state and local government jobs than before the COVID-19 pandemic. State and local governments’ employment recovery has been notably slower than that of the private sector, affecting not only constituents who directly rely upon their services but also harming the economic security of those most likely to work in these jobs, disproportionately women and workers of color.
The analysis finds that the greatest job losses fall into two categories: public facing jobs, such as receptionists, janitors, and teachers, and jobs where salaries compete with the private sector, such as data and computer scientists. Jobs that disproportionately employ Hispanic and Black workers have suffered some of the greatest losses since the start of the pandemic.
When the pandemic hit, public sector hiring was only just recovering from its massive declines following the Great Recession. It was not until 2019 that the state and local government workforce returned to its 2008 employment levels—five years slower than the private sector. Currently, the state and local government workforce continues to operate not just below pre-pandemic levels but also below 2008 recession levels.
“State and local government workers provide vital services that keep our country and our economy running,” said Rose Khattar, associate director of rapid response and analysis with the Poverty to Prosperity program at CAP and co-author of the report. “But the gutting of state and local government compounds with each recession, making the country less able to address the next crisis. State and local government must invest in hiring; recruitment; training; and, most importantly, wage increases to retain talent and continue to deliver the services that maintain the safety and stability of Americans’ daily lives.”
Read the report: “Investments in the State and Local Government Workforce Will Deliver Crucial Services and Create Economic Security” by Rose Khattar, Marina Zhavoronkova, and Anona Neal
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