Seven years after the start of the Great Recession, State and local government employment is still below the levels reported in December 2007, the first month of the Great Recession, a report released by the Rockefeller Institute of Government concluded.
Both state government and local government employment showed very weak growth. State and local government employment accounts for approximately 14 percent of total employment in the U.S.
Overall, local government employment is about two to three times as large as state government employment in most states, and it accounts for the largest number by far of government jobs lost in the current recession. Education jobs constitute a little over half of total local government employment, and almost half of total state government employment. Local government education employment primarily reflects K-12 education, and state government education employment primarily reflects higher education, although there are exceptions.
Both local government education and noneducation employment showed sharp and persistent cuts from mid-2009 through the end of 2012 and sluggish growth throughout 2013 and 2014. Local government education employment is now down 3.7 percent from its July 2008 peak; local government noneducation employment is down by 2.8 percent from its December 2008 peak.
State government noneducation employment, which constitutes slightly more than half of total state government employment, has been declining steadily since its August 2008 peak and is now down 6.0 percent, from that peak.
Despite the good news for private sector jobs, the employment outlook remains cloudy for the state and local government sector. The Great Recession led to deep cuts in state and local government jobs — much deeper than any other recession in the last five decades. As of December 2014, for the nation as a whole, state and local government employment is down 3.0 percent, from the peak level recorded in August 2008.