February 23, 2013

AP Graphic on Supposedly Steep Decline in Government Employment Starts at 2010 Census Peak

In attempting to make the case that “Even as the private sector has been slowly adding jobs, governments have been shedding them,” a chart from the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, shows how public-sector employment (not labeled as “seasonally adjusted,” but that’s what it is) has declined from a peak of 22.3 million in May of 2010 to 21.3 million in January 2013.

There’s only on “little” problem — That May 2010 peak occurred in the midst of the federal government’s decennial census:

APchartOnGovtEmployment0213

To its credit, the AP used all government employment while excluding the U.S. Postal Service. To its detriment, neither Tom Raum’s related story nor the chart itself told readers that. (It may be that the chart’s explanation at the bottom contained that point but was cut off.)

Properly straightening out the artificial peak caused by the census would show that the peak seasonally adjusted government employment excluding the Postal Service of 21.96 million really occurred in April 2009. It has since declined to 21.26 million, a decline of 700,000, or 3.2%, over a period of 45 months. That’s a lot less than the decline of one million, or almost 5%, over 32 months, that the AP chart shows. Before getting out the crying towel, realize that non-postal government employment grew by a ridiculous 1.2 million, or almost 6%, from December 2003 until that April 2009 peak.

Moving the government non-postal peak to its proper place also makes a mockery of the AP’s claim in essence that, as President Obama said year, “the private-sector is doing fine.”

Seasonally adjusted private-sector employment in April 2009 was 108.72 million, almost 7 million below its January 2008 peak of 115.67 million. It fell by an addition 2 million during the next 10 months. Since February 2010, private-sector employment (a disproportionate percentage of it part-time and/or temporary in nature) has increased by 6.11 million, but is still 2.7 million below that January 2008 peak.

Tom Raum’s opening whine was that “Republicans and other fiscal conservatives keep insisting on more federal austerity.” Tom, there hasn’t been any “austerity” yet.

Seasonally adjusted federal non-postal employment when President Obama took office was 2.06 million. Excluding census workers, it grew by almost 9% (you read that right) during the next three-plus years, peaking at 2.24 million in March 2011 — an addition of 180,000 jobs. Much of that increase went to autocratic federal regulatory bureaucracies. Federal non-postal employment has since declined to 2.19 million.

Big whoop. It’s fundamentally dishonest to claim “austerity” when federal non-postal employment is still 6% above where it was when Obama took office and the private sector is still nowhere near anything resembling a genuine recovery.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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1 Comment

  1. Not only what you point out, but the real beef is with federal spending/employment in the first place, not local and state, so including them in is misleading by the AP. I would expect state and local government employment to decline since there are many sensible conservative leaders in various states who are making necessary cuts unlike the feds. Also, you would expect a decline since when there is such a massive increase in the federal government like we have it displaces and co-opts jobs that were being done at the state and local level.

    Comment by zf — February 23, 2013 @ 5:05 pm

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