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.


Related Stories:

‘Transvestites Will Want Daycare Jobs!’ (Video)

Why Republican Economic Ideas Won’t Work

Conservative Think Tank: Teachers Are Overpaid


Photo of Alabama judicial building from ALalto via flickr


PATRICIA D5 years ago

Steve R-you have it completely backwards-those red states exist because of WELFARE from the blue states. Red states get back more money than they put into the federal government, and with all these cuts I'm sure they will get more-simply because cutting taxes while cutting employment will not bring in enough money to cover basic state costs. Don't believe in welfare and entitlements, then don't live in a red state. Better yet, let them secede and see how long they would last. They need us-we don't need them.

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons5 years ago

all that cutting is really going to help the economy. NOT

Bruce K.
Bruce K5 years ago

We have all walked into Government buildings and seen some of the employees working at a snail's pace and wondering what it is they are supposed to be doing,.
With the economy down, you have to make cuts.

Keevin Shultz
Keevin Shultz5 years ago

"I feel like I want to dance. I'm so happy that they beat the military. We need a party that stands for the people."
KHIN MAUNG MYINT, a 65-year-old painter, celebrating Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's election to Myanmar's Parliament.

Keevin Shultz
Keevin Shultz5 years ago

The best way forward for growth and job creation is to fire people!

Kenny West
Kenny Wes5 years ago

Well whether you voted republican in the Mid-terms because you were afraid of cuts to your government run medicare or you were un-enthusiastic non voting dems, you're getting what you deserve.

Rana Newbury
Rana Newbury5 years ago

There is no war on women & I have 3 arms...we have to make this stop!

Leah H.
Leah H5 years ago

The rich white men (Koch boys = the face of evil) who control all things Republican are after your state government next. They want to control the tax income of the country, so we will all be their serfs sooner or later. They have been doing similar things in third world countries for decades. Now, they have a chance to take on the big one - us. The only question is how long will it take? Middle Ages, here we come sooner rather than later. Frankly, I don't know which I hate most - them or the Americans who can't see it for what it is. They make us hate each other because it benefits them. They are evil, truly, profoundly evil.

Beth Davis
Beth D5 years ago

Of course, this is an all out assault on Pres. Obama by turning up the unemployment rate asap! They announced ( and continue to) their agenda on getting him out of office. Remember, coming for your guns? Taking over your 'freedom' of getting raped by your insurance co.? And the economy was to be the best attack. Unfortunately, for all of us, they are killing us in the process. They keep screaming about jobs, and produce a major loss of them. All the while taunting the president while they refuse to do anything. They have set us up for a big fall, and while we are scrambling for scraps, they suddenly 'fix; it...yeah, sure!
So folks, do you hate Obama so much that you screw yourselves, (and the rest of us with you)??? Can you not see what's in front of your face? the evil-do-ers are the republiconz. They have no shame or conscience, no integrity, no honor, a do-nothing-for-the-masses attitude. And the ability to LIE, like rugs. You really should be hating the congress, who have prevented everything since 08, and those things they say we (america) need to be doing? Yeah, we tried but they refused...and there are some things we are and have been doing for years, yet the republicons act like we need to do this now. Oh, they are aware of things in motion, however, most of the country have no idea what laws are on the books. So how better to keep the fever of hate going? LIE LIE LIE...makes me sick!

Edith B.
Edith B5 years ago

This is more of the Republican "war on women" that they so vehemently deny.