New York’s Local Government Employment: Has A Trend Reversed?
The annual rebenchmarking of Current Employment Survey data revealed a happy surprise for New York City; private sector employment has gone up more than previously thought. But it also revealed a surprise for the rest of New York State. Based on annual average data, local government employment fell for the second year in a row. The spreadsheet can be accessed here.
From 1990 to 2009, at a time when New York City’s local government employment fell by 10,500 jobs (2.2%), local government employment in the rest of New York State increased by 127,400 jobs (23.3%). There was little population growth in the rest of the state during these years, and if once excludes the Health Care and Social Assistance sector, which is substantially government-financed, private sector employment in the rest of the state fell by 114,800 (3.5%). But from 2009 to 2011, while local government employment in New York City fell once again by 14,200 (3.1%), local government employment in the rest of New York State also fell, by 16,400 (2.4%). So has the “everyone on the payroll” policy finally ended in the rest of the state, are the rising number of ex-government workers being paid to be retired crimping the number being paid to work, or is this just a temporary result of the recession?
The high and rising number of local government workers in the rest of the state has been well chronicled on this blog; it was the subject of the first few posts I ever made back in 2006. So has the ongoing decrease in local government workers in New York City, save for a turnaround in the public schools. But with more and more of New York City’s education spending going to the pensions, the city’s public school employment also fell by 3,300 (2.2%) from 2009 to 2011, probably with more decreases to come.
Another ongoing theme has been the soaring number of New York State workers in the private, generally non-profit Health Care and Social Assistance sector, driven in part by rising Medicaid expenditures. From 1990 to 2009 employment in this sector increased by 193,300 (51.3%) in New York City and 235,800 (49.6%) in the rest of the state. Despite news reports of Medicaid cuts and hospital closings, there was another gain of 21,100 jobs (3.7%) in the city and 21,600 jobs (3.0%) in the rest of the state from 2009 to 2011. This includes an increase from 2010 to 2011.
The decrease in local government employment in the part of the New York State outside New York City, however, does represent the reversal of a trend. From 2009 to 2011 public school employment in the rest of the state fell by 12,000 (3.3%) and other local government employment in the rest of the state fell by 4,400 (1.4%). But given just how much it had gone up in the previous 19 years (and perhaps longer), I don’t see why public services there should be any worse.