WV Center on Budget and Policy > Blog > Economic Development > Newsflash: Not All Government Employees Work for the State

Newsflash: Not All Government Employees Work for the State

In an awkward criticism, gossip columnist Phil Kabler at the Charleston Gazette has taken exception to our monthly Jobs Count report, which is a straight forward report on the employment and unemployment numbers in the state, with the data coming directly from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Phil’s point of contention with last month’s Jobs Count is that government employment had fallen by 5,700 jobs between January and November of 2012. Phil finds this hard to believe because “the number of permanent state employee FTE positions grew from 37,709 in January 2012 to 38,149 as of December,” therefore most of the jobs lost are simply temp jobs, and the loss is much ado about nothing.

While Phil is right that the job numbers reported in Jobs Count include both full time, part time, and temporary positions, he seems to be forgetting that there is more than one level of government employing people in the state. While the state of West Virginia may employ 38,000 FTE employees, the lion’s share of government workers in the state are school teachers and service personnel that are employed at the county level.  The  federal government also employs people in West Virginia, not to mention the state’s 55 county governments, and 200+ municipal governments. In fact, only about one-third of the state’s 149,500 “government” employees are employed by the state government.

So Phil is right when he guesses that most of the 5,700 jobs lost were not full-time state government jobs, just not for the right reason. If Phil had  checked our sources, he would have found that the BLS reports (and Workforce WV) that most of the lost government jobs were local government jobs.  

Government Employment, West Virginia, Seasonally Adjusted

 

Jan-12

Nov-12

Change

Federal

23,300

23,400

100

State

51,000

49,000

-2,000

Local

80,900

77,100

-3,800

Total

155,200

149,500

-5,700

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics

Our Jobs Count report “claimed” 5,700 jobs were lost in the government sector because that’s what the data show. There’s no bending, twisting, or “comparing apples to oranges.” We compared total jobs in January 2012 to total jobs in November 2012 for each major employment sector. Phil is trying to compare state government with total governments. If anyone is comparing apples to oranges, it’s him.

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