by Clyde Weiss | May 10, 2012
While 3 million jobs were added to the private sector since the Great Recession officially began in June 2009, the picture is grim for public sector employees. Federal, state and local governments shed 584,000 jobs during that period and in a new report from the Economic Policy Institute, we learn that public-sector job losses have been particularly damaging for women and African Americans.
“Women and African Americans constitute a disproportionately large share of the state and local public-sector workforce” because those employers “have provided more equitable opportunities for women and people of color,” the EPI report states. As a result, they suffer disproportionately higher job losses in the public sector.
“Between 2007 (before the recession) and 2011, state and local governments shed about 765,000 jobs. Most of them are women and African Americans. EPI says “approximately 540,000 fewer women are employed in state and local government jobs than in 2007.” Among African Americans, a whopping 7.6 percent (177,000 people) lost their jobs. EPI’s report calls that “the largest percentage change for all racial groups.”
The shame is that this didn’t need to happen. Instead of cutting services, state and local governments should have increased revenue. Unfortunately, right-wing legislators are demonizing public service employees so they can justify cutting their jobs, wages, retirement security and other benefits in order to avoid having to pay their fair share of taxes.