Local Government Employment Still 4% Below Pre-COVID Level

The number of people working in local government continues to rise at a slow pace, and remains well below last year's level. However, the incoming administration has promised to prioritize state and local government aid.

As the U.S. goes through a major resurgence in COVID-19 cases, the local government continues to inch back toward its pre-pandemic employment levels.

But that’s about the end of the good news, such as it is, for government employment. The most recent numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show a loss for employment in state and local government when education is included — using seasonally adjusted numbers, education jobs have been receding lately.


If one excludes education, local government added 33,300 jobs in October, good for a half-point increase. State government jobs dropped slightly, and federal employment dropped amid Census-related trends.


Local government, excluding education, remains more than 4 percent lower than it was at the same time last year, illustrating the challenge most cities and counties are facing amid a recession and a monthslong lack of federal aid.

While aid to state and local government has reportedly been a sticking point in negotiations over federal economic legislation, president-elect Joe Biden has specifically named it as a priority in his transition plans.

Continuous updates available here.

Previous months of analysis:
September, August, July, June, May, April

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.