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Don’t Believe the Hype! Public Sector Employment in Texas Doing Just Fine

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One of the narratives attracting a bit of media attention right now is the notion that Texas’ public sector is shedding gobs of jobs. But, as it turns out, this is little more than hype.

In July 2007, before the recession began officially, federal, state and local government employees in Texas (less those employed the in education and health services industries, which are counted separately) constituted 16.6 percent of the Texas workforce. Fast-forward to July 2012, the most recently available state-level data, and the percentage of public sector employees in the Texas workforce remains the same -- 16.6 percent.

In raw terms, the number of public sector workers has actually increased since before the recession began, jumping from 1.73 million to 1.79 million, though some of that growth is to be expected as the state’s population booms.

So what about all those government job losses we keep hearing about? Well, some shrinkage was to be expected as Texas’ share of one-time federal stimulus funds—totaling an estimated $18 billion to state and local governments—was mostly exhausted starting this fiscal year. In addition, state lawmakers (commendably) balanced last session’s two-year budget with available revenue without raising taxes or fees. This meant a smaller, leaner budget—reduced by $14 billion—that forced many state agencies to make some tough decisions.

And yet, even with significantly less federal, state, and local tax dollars helping prop up the public sector workforce, the numbers show that government employment in Texas, as a whole, is doing just fine, holding right at its pre-recession level.

 

Jul-07

% of Total

Jul-08

% of Total

Jul-09

% of Total

Jul-10

% of Total

Jul-11

% of Total

Jul-12

% of Total

Total Non-Farm

10,414.7

 

10,634.9

 

10,248

 

10,346.3

 

10,581.5

 

10,804

 

Government

1,733.4

16.6%

1,780.4

16.7%

1,816.9

17.7%

1,866.5

18%

1,826.6

17.3%

1,790.6

16.6%

Education and Health

1,256.7

12.1%

1,287.4

12.1%

1,341.5

13.1%

1,383.2

13.4%

1,425.7

13.5%

1,470.9

13.6%

 

 

28.7%

 

28.8%

 

30.8%

 

31.4%

 

30.7%

 

30.2%

Non-farm, less govt. & Education and Health

7,424.6

71.3%

7,567.1

71.2%

7,089.6

69.2%

7,096.6

68.6%

7,329.2

69.3%

7,542.5

69.8%