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Government Employment Stable After Two Months of Losses

Public-sector jobs — especially in local government — disappeared rapidly in April and May amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But in June, the most recent data shows that employment was relatively flat.

After two months of shrinking government employment, public-sector jobs stayed at about the same level in the most recent data release.

A report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a slight increase in government employment of about 33,000 from May to June, a rise of about two-tenths of a percentage point. That’s slower than the economy-wide growth of 4 percent, driven largely by the leisure and hospitality sector.
The gains in government employment were due almost entirely to local education jobs, which increased by about 70,000 month-over-month — this despite state education jobs declining by nearly 19,000. Non-education jobs in state and local government fell another 19,000, which is far lower than the more than 500,000 jobs lost in those sectors in April and May.
Year-over-year trends were almost all dramatically down, as they likely will be until and unless employment in the sector begins to rise back to pre-coronavirus levels. However, the data for June largely missed the recent resurgence of COVID-19 infections and the resulting backward steps some areas have taken in allowing economic activity to resume.
Ben Miller is the associate editor of data and business for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes breaking news, business, community features and technical subjects. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lives in Sacramento, Calif.