by Brian T. Lynch
State austerity budgets are driven both by conservative ideology and fiscal necessity even though the poor recovery in public sector jobs hurts our national recovery. The latest employment report from the Department of Labor Statistics (DOLS) was disappointing mostly because public (government) employment is not even keeping pace with the slow improvements in private sector jobs. Austerity, as a solution to the recession, has proven to be a harmful economic prescription, yet it still remains a popular conservative choice. Instead of leading us out of recovery, state austerity budgets are prolonging the recession.
Using the latest DOLS statistics for total government employment from February 2008 to February 2012, the follow charts depict just how well each state has handled the economic crisis. States in which the trend line is rising are doing their part to restart the economy. States where the trend line is pointing downward are implementing harmful austerity budgets. States with currently Republican or Democratic governors are labeled in red or blue. States where the political affiliation of the governor changed in 2010 have a red or blue line to indicate the party to which the preceding governor was affiliated. In the period from February 2012 to March 2012 (not shown), of 15 states still implementing austerity budgets, 12 of the 15 have Republican governors. This data only reflects state government employment. It doesn't include the very poor record on local government employment, which includes teachers, firemen and police.