Government employment remains strong

Local government has shown strong growth over the past year, while state and federal employment levels have remained steady.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released its latest employment figures on the US economy. The data show that government employment totaled nearly 22,000,000 in May 2021. That is about the same size as the population of the entire country of Taiwan! About 14,000,000 of these employees work for local governments across the country, about 5,000,000 work in state governments, and about 3,000,000 work for the federal government. Some important notes about the data:

  • The data are seasonally adjusted

  • State and local government data include education

  • Federal data include the US Postal Service

One key indicator SLATE has been tracking is the rise and fall of government employment since the start of the pandemic. Many governments faced fiscal challenges and were forced to furlough or lay off workers. Other governments doomful financial projects never came into fruition. We can see from the data in the chart above that government employment remained relatively stable despite a turbulent public health and economic environment.

Local government accounts for nearly 2/3 of all government employment, at almost 14 million.

Local government has seen a large year-over-year growth in employment, gaining 352,000 jobs since May 2020.

State and federal employment levels have remained relatively stable over the past year, though they have not experienced the growth of local government.