Republicans tend to shrug at the fact that private sector job gains have been offset by public sector job losses, viewing government workers as collateral damage in their quest to shrink government. For them, public sector job losses don’t count because those aren’t “real” jobs. This, despite the fact that those job losses have hurt the economy by leading to less consumer demand.
But those government jobs suddenly do seem to count when it comes to Governor Rick Perry of Texas. As former White House adviser Jared Bernstein writes today, part of Perry’s success at dealing with unemployment — a record that’s being widely hailed by conservatives as proof of the success of Perry’s anti-government approach — comes from the fact that Texas is experiencing the opposite dynamic at work in the rest of the country: It’s added public sector jobs, while losing private sector jobs. Bernstein:
Over the last few years, government jobs have been awfully consequential in Texas: 47% of all government jobs added in the US between 2007 and 2010 were added in Texas.
The chart shows that Texas employment wasn’t down much at all in these years, as the state lost only 53,000 jobs. But looming behind that number are large losses in the private sector (down 178,000) and large gains (up 125,000) in government jobs.
Good for Perry, and good for Texas. But as Bernstein notes, this hardly matches up with Perry’s anti-government rhetoric, or the national GOP’s indifference to public sector job-loss nationwide. Stemming public sector job losses are one aspect of the economy where the federal government can make a significant impact — if only Republicans Congress were willing to invest in doing that, instead of proclaiming “we’re broke” and then demanding more spending cuts and tax cuts for the wealthy. But when public sector job growth does take place — as in Texas — conservatives are happy to use those numbers as part of their case for their anti-government ideology.