… while the latest recession was particularly deep, the recovery in private-sector employment, once it finally started, has not been particularly slow by recent historical standards. In the 27 months since the start of the current employment recovery, the private sector has added 4.3 million jobs, fewer than the 5.0 million it added in the 27 months after February 1992 but not many fewer than the 4.5 million it added in the equivalent period after August 2003.
But there is something historically different about this recession and its aftermath: in the past, local government employment has been almost recession-proof. This time it’s not. Going back as long as the data have been collected … local government employment continued to grow almost every month regardless of what the economy threw at it. But since the latest recession began, local government employment has fallen by 3 percent, and is still falling.