All government job losses are local. Well, most of them, anyway.

From the start of the Great Recession in late 2007 to this July, federal, state and local governments have shed about 524,000 jobs in all. But local governments suffered just over three in four of those losses, having shed some 400,000 jobs. Meanwhile, 114,000 state government jobs were lost and just 10,000 were dropped at the federal level.


Local government education has been hit particularly hard since the start of the Great Recession. (Credit: John McDonnell)

The disparity is a reflection, in part, of the fact that local governments employ far more people than the state or federal governments. Nearly two in three government jobs in July — 64 percent — were local. State jobs accounted for 23 percent of the total, while federal government employment accounted for just 13 percent. Yet, as a percentage, losses fell disproportionately at the state and local levels.

Ohio, for example, is down nearly 50,000 government jobs since 2009, according to a Monday Columbus Dispatch article. And most of the pain of those losses has been felt locally “where 45,100 jobs have been lost, an 8 percent decline,” the paper reported. A handful of metropolitan areas — including Flint, Mich., Vineland-Millville-Bridgeton, N.J., Bloomington-Normal, Ill., and Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, Fla. — have suffered declines in total government employment of more than 25 percent since the Great Recession began.

And the problem is unique among recent recoveries, according to a January report from the nonprofit Rockefeller Institute of Government at the State University of New York at Albany.


More than two thirds of the local government losses nationwide affected just one sector: education. In a report last summer, the White House described that education decline as “historically unprecedented.” Of the total 400,000 local government job losses since the Great Recession began, more than two in three were to education, according to Labor Department data.