Public Assets Institute > Policy Areas > Family Economic Security > Public employees are workers, too

Public employees are workers, too

It’s unfortunate, but the recession means that state and local governments have less money to pay for services just as citizens have greater need for those services.  And when government cuts services, it isn’t only turning its back on its citizens; it’s also slowing economic recovery.

An excellent National Public Radio report this morning makes this point in showing how this mixture of greater need and less revenue is playing out in Elizabethtown, Essex County, New York, across Lake Champlain from Addison County, Vermont. Among the toughest cuts: the closing of the county-owned nursing home and the layoff of its 200 workers.

The report makes two important points that we don’t often hear.  First, the economies of communities like Elizabethtown depend on tax dollars: a diner owner comments that 70 percent to 75 percent of his customers are state or local employees.  And, second, that one in seven U.S. workers is on a state or local government payroll.

Cutting jobs in this sector has a big impact on the economic activity of communities and states across the country. In Vermont, state government is the largest single employer.  As we point out in our State of Working Vermont 2009 report published earlier this fall, cutting state jobs, which increases unemployment, is the wrong approach to dealing with the recession.

Posted by Paul Cillo on December 31, 2009 at 1:18 pm

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