While Economy Struggles, Government Hires Workers Briskly

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Federal, state and local governments are hiring new workers at the fastest pace in six years, helping offset job losses in the private sector.

Governments added 76,800 jobs in the first three months of 2008, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

That's the biggest jump in first-quarter hiring since a boom in 2002 that followed the 9/11 terrorist attacks. By contrast, private companies collectively shed 286,000 workers in the first three months of 2008. That job loss has led many economists to declare the country is in a recession.

Job numbers for April, out Friday, will show if the trend is continuing. Some economists say a government hiring binge could soften a recession in the short term.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomy

2 Comments
Posted April 30, 2008 at 11:48 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Irenaeus wrote:

“While Economy Struggles, Government Hires Workers Briskly”

That makes no sense at all. State and local governments should be making plans on the assumption that sales taxes and the capital-gains portion of income taxes will decline. Ditto for real-property taxes insofar as they reflect market value. Hiring now invites double pain during the next year or so.

April 30, 5:57 pm | [comment link]
2. Sick & Tired of Nuance wrote:

They are only giving you half the story…I guess to make it sensational and sell copy.

The Federal Government [and I would assume that State and Municipal Government are in the same boat] is facing a tsunami of retirements right now.  As an example, Air Traffic Controllers are retiring at a rate of about 20% per year [if the numbers I heard are correct] and the technical force supporting them are retiring at the rate of between 2 to 5 percent per month [according to an email I received from their union].  Even if these numbers are slightly exaggerated, there is still a known wave of retirements that was predicted over ten years ago.  The FAA may be a special case because of the PATCO strike and subsequent firing and mass hiring of controllers in the 80’s, but the overall trend government wide is of massive retirements.

A few years ago, I read an article that stated that fully half the Federal workforce would be eligible to retire in the next five years.  The brain drain has begun.  Actually, many agencies are behind the curve on hiring.  Many of the specialized functions in government require a few years of training for the new-hires to become proficient…even the bright ones.  Another factor is that many of the positions involved are “inherently governmental” and cannot be contracted out.  For example, would anyone want a contractor, motivated by profit rather than public safety, to provide oversight and regulation on food and drugs or something like workplace electrical safety or fall protection?


So yes, there may be an big increase in goverment hiring, but I believe that it is being more than offset by the huge numbers that are retiring.  The race is on to see if the knowledge base can be transferred from the old guard to the new fast enough.  They should have been hiring more people a few years ago so that the transition would be smoother, but regulations prevented them from increasing staffing based on “projected” retirements; even though those projections were based on solid demographics.

You can read the rest of the story here:

http://www.federalnewsradio.com/index.php?nid=22&sid=1343780

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/01/AR2006050100631.html

http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0806/080906m1.htm

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/07_40/b4052070.htm

May 1, 8:24 am | [comment link]
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