As Washington inches closer to massive spending cuts, we should consider the effect that lost government jobs will have on the broader U.S. economy. On Sunday, my colleague Derek Thompson pointed out that government jobs have declined by a larger percentage than private sector jobs since President Obama took office. But within that data you find two very different stories, however: federal government jobs have flourished while state and local government jobs have plummeted.
Here's a chart showing the two contrasting paths (the purple line marks the start of Obama's term):
Do your best to ignore those big spikes on the red line for federal jobs. These are due to the temporary Census jobs. Their influence is transitory, however, and the end point for the numbers we care about is unaffected by the Census. Also, the vertical axes don't begin at zero so we can better zoom in on the change, not in an effort to mislead readers into thinking that these increases or declines are gigantic -- they aren't. But they are significant.
As you can see, federal government jobs (excluding the postal service) have actually grown fairly aggressively since Obama took office. They're up 139,300 or 6.7%. Over the same period, state and local government jobs are down 556,000 or 2.8%.Though not shown, private sector jobs have declined by 1.8% since January 2009.