Hawaii, Alaska, D.C. Lead in Gov't Jobs
Federal, state, and local government employment all declined nationally in 2011
by Lymari Morales, Gallup.org
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Nearly 3 out of every 10 workers in Hawaii (29.7%), Alaska (29.6%), and the District of Columbia (29.1%) work for federal, state, or local government, at a time when government employment is declining nationally at all levels. Pennsylvania has the lowest percentage of government workers, at 11.8%.
The findings are from Gallup Daily tracking interviews conducted with 129,476 U.S. workers throughout 2011, and include all workers who say they work for government -- whether federal, state, local, or unspecified. Maryland and Virginia, which neighbor the nation's capital, are fourth and fifth, respectively, in total government employment. Nationwide, the states with above-average levels of government employment are mixed geographically, while, the states with the below-average levels of government employment are all in the Northeast or the Midwest. In no state do fewer than 1 in 10 workers work for government.
Government Employment Declines at All Levels Nationwide
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Overall, 16.3% of U.S. workers Gallup surveyed in 2011 said they work for government, down from 17.2% in 2010 and 17.3% in 2009. This is consistent with the decline of 280,000 government jobs the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported for 2011. The overall decline in Gallup's data was distributed equally across federal, state, and local government, with a nationwide decline of 0.3 percentage points at each level.
State government employed the highest percentage of government workers in the U.S. overall in 2011, at 6.5%, followed by local government at 5.1% and the federal government at 4.4%. The remaining 0.3% of government workers did not specify which level of government they worked for. Both state and local government employment have trended downward since 2009, while federal government employment decreased in 2011 after increasing in 2010.
Gallup has also documented declines in total government employment nationwide over the past three years with its Job Creation Index. The Job Creation Index score for government jobs stood at -10 in 2011, with an average of 23% of government workers saying their employer was hiring and 33% saying their employer was letting workers go.
Washington, D.C., Sees Decline in Federal Jobs but Still Leads Nation
Washington, D.C., easily leads in the nation in federal government employment, but the 21.4% of workers who are in federal government jobs is down 4.1 points in 2011 compared with 2010. The neighbors of the nation's capital, Maryland and Virginia, are second and third.
Hawaii and Alaska come in fourth and fifth in federal employment and lead the nation in state employment, helping to explain their high level of government employment overall. New York, New Hampshire, Maryland, Connecticut, and New Mexico have the highest percentages of local government workers.
Federal, state, and local government employment did not change much at the state level. No state saw federal or state employment increase to a statistically significant degree.
At a time when fear of big government is near a record high, Gallup Daily tracking finds federal, state, and local government employment decreasing nationally. Still, government employs 16.3% of U.S. workers and at least 1 in 10 workers in every U.S. state.
Given that the broader U.S. economy has been improving, a key question is whether some of the government jobs that have been lost will come back or to what extent the U.S. may be headed toward an era of smaller government. It is possible that state and local governments' job creation may stabilize as their budgets rebound after the economic crisis.
The federal government of course faces the most negative balance sheet of all. While federal job cuts clearly affect the nation's capital first and foremost, Gallup's state-level data serve as a reminder that government contraction has the potential to affect every state in the nation.