How State Spending Cuts Are Killing the Economy

More

President Obama might have been wrong to say the private sector was "doing fine," but he couldn't have been more right when he pinpointed the public sector as one of the biggest weaknesses in the economy. State and local governments have cut more than 100,000 jobs over the past year, and it's doing a number on growth:

NYFed_State_Local_Spending_Cuts_GDP.jpg


This graph from Federal Reserve Bank of New York's blog shows state and local government spending's contribution to GDP. The bars represent the impact each quarter, while the the green line tracks the annual average. The line nosedives after the recession, even with help from the stimulus. Last quarter, state and local austerity shaved around 0.3 percent off our growth rate. That's a significant dent, considering we grew at an annual rate of just 1.9 percent during those three months.

All of this is, of course, a completely self-inflicted wound. There is no reason the federal government shouldn't be borrowing at record low interest rates -- interest rates so low that investors are literally paying us to hold their money, once you account for inflation -- to finance aid to state governments.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Jordan Weissmann is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Why Are Americans So Bad at Saving Money?

The US is particularly miserable at putting aside money for the future. Should we blame our paychecks or our psychology?


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Death of Film

You'll never hear the whirring sound of a projector again.

Video

How to Hunt With Poison Darts

A Borneo hunter explains one of his tribe's oldest customs: the art of the blowpipe

Video

A Delightful, Pixar-Inspired Cartoon

An action figure and his reluctant sidekick trek across a kitchen in search of treasure.

Video

I Am an Undocumented Immigrant

"I look like a typical young American."

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In