Ups And Downs In State And Local Unemployment [Infographic]

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state and local unemploymentAs states scramble to balance their budgets many state employees have found themselves on the chopping block. As the latest jobs report showed last week, the number of workers on government payrolls shrank 34,000 in September, compared to a gain of about 137,000 positions in the private sector.

The drop in state and local employment is attributable to shortfalls in tax revenues that began shrinking at the end of the last economic expansion in 2007, according to the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. The number of government jobs has declined by about 500,000 since the beginning of 2010, just as private employers began ramping up hiring.

States with the highest numbers of layoffs include some most battered by the mortgage crisis and the recent recession. They include bellwether states such as California and Florida, as well as industrial powerhouses Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. In those states and a dozen others, state and local government unemployment has declined at least 3.6 percent since July 2008 until August, and fell as much as 8.3 percent.

Fourteen other states, including New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Illinois, have seen state and local payrolls decline by 0.1 to 3.5 percent.

Job losses in these states generally have occurred within four sectors -- fire protection, highways, hospitals and prisons, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census Bureau.

The remaining 19 states have seen either no cuts in state or local government payrolls or recorded gains of as much as 11.3 percent. Those increases are attributable in part to a rise in the number of people employed in higher education (as laid-off workers headed back to the classroom), as well as those hired to help with the deluge of laid off workers applying for unemployment and other benefits during the recession.

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