April's jobs report suggests the employment outlook for the sluggish local government sector just might be improving.

The U.S. Department of Labor reports local governments added 17,000 jobs in April as most sectors of the economy recorded a strong month of hiring. While that number isn’t much considering the overall size of the public sector, it marks the third consecutive month of job growth. 

Since the beginning of February, localities added an estimated 45,000 positions, according to federal data. That’s the strongest three-month period the hard-hit sector has experienced in years (see chart below).

Local education employment accounts for the majority of the recent job gains -- about 27,000 positions.

Meanwhile, state government payrolls continue to remain flat.

At the federal level, employment is headed in the opposite direction. In the first four months of the year, federal employment dipped by 28,000 jobs. To put that into perspective, the sector has now trimmed about 3 percent of its workforce over the past 12 months.

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