The economy hit a milestone of sorts last month, as payroll employment finally topped its pre-recession level. But there are two important caveats.
First, as we’ve pointed out, the growth in the working-age population since the recession started means that many more people today want to work but don’t have a job. Second, the number of government jobs remains well below pre-recession levels. State and local employment, for example, remains more than 450,000 jobs below the December 2007 level (see graph).
The large losses in government jobs are symptomatic of the sharp cutbacks in state and local spending that have slowed the recovery from the Great Recession.