Total Employment Falls, Local Government Hiring Continues to Grow

Last week, we demonstrated that South Carolina’s improved employment picture hasn’t really improved much at all. Rather, government hiring and a shrinking labor force are making the job numbers look better than they are.

Our analysis looked at government hiring from January to May 2010. The numbers for June—which account for the elimination of thousands of temporary Census positions at the federal level—tell the same story.

Here are the government employment numbers for January, May and June 2010:

 

    January      May      June
Federal

31,500

41,700

36,400

State

99,000

97,500

97,300

Local

221,900

226,200

226,700

Federal hiring has obviously skyrocketed in South Carolina and across the nation. This is true even once we account for the drop off in federal Census positions from May to June.

 

January to May 2010:

  1. Federal: 32.38 percent increase (31,500 to 41,700)
  2. State: 1.52 percent decrease (99,000 to 97,500)
  3. Local: 1.33 percent increase (221,900 to 226,200)

January to June 2010:

  1. Federal: 15.5 percent increase (31,500 to 36,400)
  2. State: 1.71 percent decrease (99,000 to 97,300)
  3. Local: 2.16 percent increase (221,900 to 226,700)

All in all, total public sector employment in South Carolina increased 2.27 percent from January to June 2010. That is to be compared to a 3.69 percent increase from January to May 2010. Granted, federal Census positions made up a significant part of the May increase, but what is even more interesting is that local government hiring continues to grow.

Now, let’s look at the June numbers within the context of the current recession. Since December 2007, private sector employment in South Carolina has declined by 124,100 jobs, or 7.71 percent. By comparison, public sector employment has increased by 19,600 jobs, or 5.75 percent.

In other words, the ratio of private sector to public sector jobs has declined from 4.72 to 4.12 since the beginning of the recession. This translates into a 12.7 percent contraction in the size of the private sector relative to the public sector. What is worse is that owing to the decline in private sector employment for June (see below), the ratio of private sector job losses to public sector job gains increased from 5.31 in May to 6.33 jobs lost for every public sector job created.

 

December 2007 to June 2010:

  1. Federal: 22.15 percent increase (29,800 to 36,400)
  2. State: 1.22 percent decrease (98,500 to 97,300)
  3. Local: 8.31 percent increase (209,300 to 226,700)

Compare this to the numbers for December 2007 to May 2010:

  1. Federal: 39.93 percent increase (29,800 to 41,700)
  2. State: 1.02 percent decrease (98,500 to 97,500)
  3. Local: 8.07 percent increase (209,300 to 226,200)

Again, local government hiring has consistently increased during the recession.

Finally, the pool of potential workers (i.e., those looking for work) shrank once again from May to June 2010—from 2,159,200 to 2,149,600—a contraction of 9,600 persons.

Similarly, despite a decline in the state unemployment rate from May to June (11.1 percent to 10.7 percent)—something typically viewed as a good thing—there were fewer people actually employed in June than in May. As of June 2010, there were 1,919,404 persons employed in South Carolina, compared to 1,920,479 as of May. If we exclude government jobs from this figure, the total employed workforce would be 1,559,004, making for an actual unemployment rate of 27.5 percent.

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