Public Sector Job Cuts: It’s a Red State Thing
Written by Barbara Doherty, AFL-CIO
Just over a year ago, the 2010 midterm elections saw Republicans seize control of both branches of the legislatures in 11 states. Then, while talking up the notion of job creation, they set about cutting their state and local public workforces with a ferocity unseen in decades. The most recent numbers, according to the Roosevelt Institute, are stark.
The 11 states are Alabama, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Together, they eliminated 87,900 state and local public jobs—more than 40 percent of the total cut.
All by itself, Texas—which already was GOP-dominated before 2010—cut 67,900 public-sector jobs, or 31.3 percent.
To put it in perspective, the 11 states have 23 percent of U.S. state and local employees. Texas has 8.5 percent. The job cuts were much higher than their share of the public workforce.
At the same time, many of these newly GOP-dominated states cut corporate taxes, or cut taxes on high-income earners, or—in the case of Wisconsin—both.
Starting with the overall economy, the casualty list resulting from all these cuts is huge. Economist Paul Krugman has estimated that if the government workforce had grown at a Reagan-era rate instead of decreasing rapidly, unemployment now would be closer to 7 percent instead of stagnating at 8.5 percent during recent months.
But women and people of color are hit especially hard by public-sector cuts. As we’ve reported before, public-sector jobs have made it possible for women and people of color to win the financial security that often eludes them in the private sector.
While women represented 57 percent of the public-sector workforce at the end of the recession, women lost 79 percent of the 327,000 jobs cut in this sector between July 2009 and February 2011.
During 2008-2010, more than 21 percent of all black workers were public employees, compared with 16.3 percent of non-black workers. For both men and women, the median wage earned by black employees is significantly higher in the public sector.
What else has been on the agenda in those 11 super-red states?
Not surprisingly, it is there that the GOP has pushed through an avalanche of measures restricting both democratic voting rights and reproductive rights. Read more in this article from The Nation.
This post was originally published by the AFL-CIO.
Photo of Alabama judicial building from ALalto via flickr