State Governments Continue Slashing Payrolls

State governments cut 53,000 jobs over the past five months, with education employees being hardest hit.
by | March 8, 2013 AT 3:10 PM

While private-sector employers added an impressive 246,000 jobs last month, state governments continued to further trim their payrolls.

U.S. Department of Labor data released Friday indicates states shed 8,000 jobs in February -- the fifth consecutive month of job reductions. Since October, states eliminated 53,000 positions nationwide, with colleges and universities incurring the bulk of the cutbacks.

State education employees have been hit hardest. Employment levels for other state workers fluctuated little, remaining relatively flat this year.

Previous state government employment estimates were revised down by 19,000 for January and 4,000 for December.

Meanwhile, at the local level, government employment hasn't changed much so far this year. Localities cut 2,000 jobs last month after payrolls shrunk 4,000 in December, according to Labor Department estimates. Those reductions are very minor, considering the size of local government payrolls nationwide is nearly three times that of state governments.

An International Public Management Association for Human Resources survey published last month reported only 11 percent of state and local governments expected to make job cuts this year, down from 22 percent in 2012.

Private-sector growth in February’s jobs report signaled a strong month for the national economy, with the U.S. unemployment rate falling to 7.7 percent -- the lowest level in more than four years.

The following major private-sector industries added the most number of jobs in February:

Professional and business services: +73,000

Construction: +48,000

Trade, Transportation and utilities: +30,000

Leisure and hospitality: +24,000

Education and health services: +24,000

Information: +20,000

Manufacturing: +14,000

Financial activities: +7,000

Mining and logging: +5,000

Here's an updated chart showing estimated month-to-month seasonally adjusted changes in public-sector employment.