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Chart: Government jobs, which have generally increased during and after recessions, have declined 2.3 percent since the most recent one began in late 2007.
If you want to know why the U.S. economy hasn't been recovering from the great recession fast enough, there's one word that will take you a long ways toward the answer: austerity. All the Republican talk of big government blah blah blah is meant to cover up realities like this:
Federal, state and local governments now employ 500,000 fewer workers than they did on the eve of the recession in 2007, the longest and deepest decline in total government employment since the aftermath of World War II.

Total government spending continues to increase, but those broader figures include benefit programs like Social Security. Government purchases and investments expand the nation’s economy, just as private sector transactions do, while benefit programs move money from one group of people to another without directly expanding economic activity.

That's in marked contrast to how we recovered from recessions in the past, as the graph at the top shows. Meanwhile, inflation-adjusted federal, state, and local government consumption and investment has declined by 4.9 percent.

Chart: Federal government spending often falls after recessions and wars, but the current round of cuts in investment and spending on goods and services is unusually deep. Combined with cuts by state and local governments, the drop in government’s contribution to economic growth is the largest in more than 50 years.

And with the sequester, we're heading for more cuts. Basically, the United States economy is in a hole and Republicans are yelling "dig faster." They'd probably bring in hole-digging equipment if they didn't worry that might create government jobs.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 01:06 PM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions, Invisible People, Daily Kos Economics, and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thank you, Laura. (4+ / 0-)

    Please forgive me when I point out that Paul Krugman pointed this out in roughly 2008 or maybe 2007, when he said that the states were going to be starved of federal funds and effectively act as a brake on all the stimulus the White House was attempting.

    Once again, Krugman correct; GOP wrong; and bad economists promoting bad policy.

    Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

    by Youffraita on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 01:10:48 PM PST

  •  The bad policy pushed by the GOP is designed (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jdmorg

    to cripple, perhaps totally maim, the Obama administration so that they can regain total power which they believe they are entitled to because, well, they were born of the purple.  It is by design, all of it.

    Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

    by judyms9 on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 01:29:06 PM PST

  •  Austerity doesn't work. (3+ / 0-)

    There is no evidence showing that austerity works in the short run or the long run.

    We no longer have a global financial crisis, we have a global austerity crisis.

    An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail. (The truth against the world.) Is treasa tuath na tighearna. (The common people are mightier than the lords.)

    by OllieGarkey on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 01:49:44 PM PST

    •  The Village answer to "Austerity isn't working" (4+ / 0-)

      is--as always--more austerity.

      When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill...

      by PhilJD on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 01:57:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  uhm (0+ / 0-)

      It depends. There are definitely cases where it has worked, but certain conditions are required.

      For example Canada in the late 1980's, early 1990s had a very serious deficit problem. The result was that the government brought in an austerity program. Lots of cuts were made and a new value added tax was introduced. Canada suffered through a major recession as a result (far deeper than the US recession of the same time period), but in the end came out with a balanced budget and then ran surpluses (yes, surpluses!!!) for about 15 years straight.

      The special conditions were that by implementing an austerity program interest rates fell, reducing debt servicing costs and starting a virtuous circle. So yes, austerity can work in certain circumstances ... and yes Canada is still in better financial shape than the US and it has not had to resort to printing money to stay afloat. Sometimes more pain early is better than even more pain later.

      There's room at the top they're telling you still But first you must learn how to smile as you kill If you want to be like the folks on the hill

      by taonow on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 07:48:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Republicans love killing government jobs (0+ / 0-)

    because it hurts Obama, by undermining the recovery. Because many government workers are organized, and their unions tend to support Democrats. Because many government workers enforce environmental and other regulations that the right's corporate backers so detest. Because turning government functions over to private sector profiteers in education and elsewhere will help the rich get richer. And because "country first" was just a slogan.

  •  It 'is' hurting, not helping. Thanks for this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action

    diary.

    But, let's not forget that true "austerity measures" are the result of "raising taxes or revenue, at the same time that basic, structural social insurance programs (read:  Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid) are slashed, or benefits deeply cut."

    I'll be out there with the best of 'em yelling at our lawmakers to not enact budget cuts that will eliminate jobs, etc.

    But we need to raise our voices even louder, if and when 'true austerity measures' are on-the-table.  

    And, I expect them to be soon (as in now). :-)

    Mollie

    "If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

    hiddennplainsight

    by musiccitymollie on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 02:13:10 PM PST

  •  And if you want to know why (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    musiccitymollie

    look to the Center. This is the result of twenty years of Third Way politics supporting Republican supply-side economics memes.

    If they were half as serious about the Democratic Party platform as they were about supporting policies that concentrate income and wealth, we might get somewhere. If they were as serious as the Left, the Right would be totally irrelevant, which they should be.

    When 1% take 121% of the gains from "recovery", people actually recovering from lost employment are trading down on wages and benefits. Current strategies by moderates don't even consider winning the Class War.

    by Words In Action on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 04:06:20 PM PST

  •  Mr.u got a letter today from the school board (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ferg

    "Do to decreased revenue from local and federal sources we may have to have a reduction in force and your contract for 2013-2014 may not be renewed".

    Yeah, feels real good. mr.u turned 62 this month, what will we do if this happens? Fuck!

    "The scientific nature of the ordinary man is to go on out and do the best you can." John Prine

    by high uintas on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 07:06:27 PM PST

  •  Republicans re hole 'drill baby, DRILL!' n/t (0+ / 0-)

    You can safely assume you have created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do. Anne Lamott

    by zooecium on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 07:16:15 PM PST

  •  Killing government jobs (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    offgrid, Zinman

    Killing government jobs hurts in several ways:

    First, the unemployed worker no longer has money in their pockets.  Less money means less spending.  In an economy that is consumer driven, this is a no win.  

    Second, fewer government workers mean many have to wait longer for their pensions and reimbursements.  My husband has been gone for 18 months. I have  yet to receive my pension from the VA.  I keep getting notices that it's "in the works", but no pension check.  That means I have less money to spend.  And I'm not the only one waiting.  

    I don't understand the thinking behind austerity, but since it's working nowhere, wtf is the point?  

  •  Not sure I agree with the end of the block quote (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    offgrid
    Government purchases and investments expand the nation’s economy, just as private sector transactions do, while benefit programs move money from one group of people to another without directly expanding economic activity.
    Moving money from the morbidly wealthy to the poor does indeed stimulate the economy. If only we could lift the cap on the payroll tax.

    The excessive use of television and automobiles can be hazardous to your health.

    by Greenkermie in AZ on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 07:45:58 PM PST

  •  No justification for deficit fixation (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Zinman, FishOutofWater

    Inflation? Not much
    High interest rates? No
    Dollar devaluation? It's still gaining

    Stock market soaring, business making record profits.

    Okay, so why is there a need for austerity measures?

    I call bullshit on the deficit hawks.

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 08:56:33 PM PST

  •  never forget that Obama has bought (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cynic in seattle

    at least 1/2 way into this bullshit.

    need to keep the pressure on him to not go all in.

    big badda boom : GRB 090423

    by squarewheel on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 08:58:29 PM PST

    •  More like 3/4 in (0+ / 0-)

      I recall the president saying something to the effect that government doesn't create jobs, only the private sector does.  Ummmmm, FDR created about 15 million or so with the new deal.

      Bringing in Summers and Geithner and supporting Bernake's re-nomination to the Fed did not help at all.

      Also, I fear that Obama will use sequestration to force the base to support cuts to SS and Medicare.

      "Sisters, brothers and the whities, Blacks and the crackers, Police and their backers, They're all political actors"--Curtis Mayfield

      by Cynic in seattle on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 08:22:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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