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News from EPI Post-Great Recession recovery marked by public-sector losses

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For Immediate Release: Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Contact: Phoebe Silag or Karen Conner, news@epi.org 202-775-8810

Post-Great Recession recovery marked by public-sector losses

The depth and severity of the Great Recession account for the current dismal labor market, though the recovery from the Great Recession–now two years old–compares somewhat favorably to the last two post-recession recoveries, a new Economic Policy Institute (EPI) Issue Brief finds.  All three of these recoveries—the current one, the recovery of the early 2000s and the recovery of the early 1990s—have been marked by slower job growth than in other post-World War II recoveries (with the exception of the recovery from the first leg of the double-dip recession of the early 1980s).

Historically deep job loss, but not an unusual recovery: Decline in government jobs noteworthy recovery feature by economist Josh Bivens and Director of Regulatory Policy Research Isaac Shapiro finds that the pace of private-sector job creation during the economic recovery that officially began in June 2009 is actually faster than it was during the recovery of the early 2000s and roughly equivalent to the recovery of the early 1990s.  However, public-sector employment, which is now 1.9 percent lower than it was at the start of the current recovery, is lagging behind the public-sector job creation rate of the last two recoveries.  Government employment rose by 1.1 percent over the comparable period in the recovery of the 2000s and by 2.2 percent in the recovery of the 1990s.

Nearly all of the 430,000 jobs that have been lost in the public sector during the current recovery have been lost at the local level.  Local government employment is now 407,000 lower than it was at the beginning of the recovery, and almost half of those losses have been education workers.