“Shared sacrifice” is one of the shibboleths of the redistributionist left, but the sharing always seems to stop short of the caring classes and government employees. This fact is brought vividly to light in the lead story in today’s Washington Post: “Job creation withers in May as doubt reigns.” (At least they’re starting to drop the modifier “unexpectedly” in their copy; this story emphasizes the “uncertainty” of the world created by Obamanomics.) The middle graphic in this online sidebar tells you something significant: Unemployment among government workers is a mere 3.9 percent, compared to the 9.1 percent overall rate (which figure of course understates the true depth of private sector unemployment), and 16 percent in the construction industry.
You can get an even better feel for things by spending some time with the Post‘s online interactive graphic of unemployment by sector. Only three sectors show employment above pre-recession levels: logging and mining (and it turns out all of this gain is in mining–probably at those gold mines with the soaring price of the barbaric relic–logging jobs are still in free fall), education & health care, and government. Education and health care ought to be considered largely government-driven, since about half of our total health care spending comes directly from government, and an even higher proportion of total education spending comes from government.
We keep hearing anecdotes that state and local governments at least are shedding public employees, but the overall government unemployment rate of 3.9 percent suggests it’s pretty mild so far. To the contrary, if you click on the line for total government employment to see the data broken out, you’ll see federal government employment soared under the stimulus; state and local government employment remained flat.
I’ll believe the economy is truly affecting government when the government employee unemployment rate reaches half the general unemployment rate. Until then, let’s keep having tea parties. Why is it, someone should ask all the candidates, that government is the only institution that never downsizes?
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