Updated Jobs Data Indicate Further Local Government Cuts

Localities have slashed an estimated 47,000 jobs, mostly teaching positions, since August.
December 7, 2012

The Labor Department’s jobs report published Friday signaled accelerating government job cuts at the local level in recent months.

Preliminary figures suggest total local government employment remained mostly unchanged in November, declining only 2,000. But since August, localities slashed an estimated 47,000 jobs from payrolls, mostly teaching and related positions.

Revisions to estimates for previous months stood out in the report, indicating a dip in employment after sizable gains in the middle part of the year.

For October, the Labor Department revised estimates down by 36,000 – a fairly significant swing from the department’s initial estimate. Using the revised October figures, localities shed 30,000 jobs, the largest monthly decline since July 2011. Employment estimates for September were also revised down, with an estimated reduction of 15,000 positions from August.

Employment for education-related positions declined sharply in recent months, while non-education public employment fluctuated little.

State governments added 6,000 jobs last month after trimming payrolls by 15,000 in October, according to Labor Department data.

The national unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent and the economy added 146,000 jobs in November, in line with average monthly job gains over the past year. Sectors registering the largest job growth included retail trade, professional and business services and health care.

The labor force participation rate, which measures those currently employed or looking for work, declined 0.2 percent, essentially offsetting an increase from October.

Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc across the Northeast in late October, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics said in a statement that it did not “substantively impact” national jobs figures for November.

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