A new study of employment statistics shows that Idaho cut a larger share of state government jobs than any other state in the country, but that local governments increased their workforce more than most states.
The study from the Rockefeller Institute of Government in New York measured new numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, comparing the spring of 2010 to 2009. Idaho state government reduced its employment by 6.9 percent while local government employment rose 2.7 percent. During that span, private sector employment dropped 0.8 percent.
According to the study’s authors, Donald J. Boyd and Lucy Dadayan, the dip in state-level employment and rise in local-level public sector employment balanced out to show no change in public sector employment in Idaho. That’s because in most states, local governments have a larger workforce than state governments.
The researchers say that during recessions, government employment changes lag behind the private sector, meaning government jobs are slower to be eliminated at the start of an economic tumble, and then slower to be added back when outlooks improve.
Idaho’s 6.9 percent drop in state-level government employment was much higher than Hawaii, Wisconsin, and Connecticut, the next closest states, which all reduced their state government employment by between 4 percent and 4.5 percent.
Idaho stands out among states' percent change in unemployment from 2009 to 2010. (Source: Rockefeller Institute/Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Only North Carolina, Montana, and South Carolina increased local government employment more than Idaho.
Idaho is one of 10 states to decrease state government employment while increasing local government employment from 2009 to 2010. The other such states were Wisconsin, Vermont, New Mexico, Louisiana, New Jersey, Minnesota, South Dakota, and South Carolina.
The report said that across the country, both state and local government employment are down, but that private sector employment has dropped further in the past year.