Recession-Era Austerity Has Led to Weak Public Jobs Growth And Fragile Economic Recovery
Today’s job report brought positive news: the economy added 280,000 jobs and wages grew at an annual rate of 2.3 percent. This month marks six years since the end of the Great Recession, but the economy still has significant recovering to do. The graphic below shows that while the private sector is recovering, austerity remains a major drag on job growth.
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According to an analysis by the Center for American Progress, slow growth in public sector employment is dragging down our overall economic recovery. Washington’s self-imposed budget sequestration and strict austerity measures at the state and local level have contributed to slow public sector growth, and as a result we have fewer public school teachers, poorly maintained infrastructure, and higher tuition at public universities.
On the other hand, the private sector has enjoyed robust growth since the end of the recession. Between June 2009 and May 2015, the private sector added 11.4 million jobs, while the public sector lost some 559,000 state and local government jobs over the same period. Budget cuts have reduced the number of teachers, bus drivers, firefighters and police officers, to name just a few. At this stage in the recovery, the public sector isn’t keeping up with the needs of our growing population, and the shortfall of public sector employees not only highlights this deficit, but also slows down our recovery.
BOTTOM LINE: Reinvesting in public sector employment would create reliable, good-paying, middle-class jobs and help speed up our economic recovery. Rather than continue down the damaging path of sequestration, which reduces the federal government’s ability to respond to the struggling economy, Congress should be doing more to invest in the economy and support state and local government functions that are essential to the lives of everyday Americans.
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