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State Jobs Picture Darker Than We Thought

States’ and localities’ ability to provide public services has been damaged even more deeply in recent years than experts had thought, today’s jobs report indicates — and federal funding cuts are making it even harder for states to recover.

States and localities lost another 10,000 jobs in February, with three-quarters of the job loss hitting schools, community colleges, and other public education institutions.  States and localities now have lost about 750,000 jobs since August of 2008.

That’s far worse than we thought the last time we wrote about state and local employment trends in December.  At that time, state and local employment was down about 650,000 from its peak — 100,000 fewer than reported today.  And it appeared that state and local employment finally had leveled off after years of declines.

The more disturbing story today results primarily from the Bureau of Labor Statistics revising its past jobs estimates to make them more accurate.  The revised figures show that states and localities have shed many more jobs in the last year and a half than previously thought.  And, they show that states and localities have continued to shed jobs in the last three months, when 33,000 jobs were lost.

Now is not the time for the federal government to impose further cuts in funding on states and local governments, but that’s exactly what’s happening through the “sequestration” budget cuts and the funding cuts imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011.  Those cuts are reducing further funding for schools and a wide range of other state and local services that provide the foundation of a strong economy, and they’re making it even harder for states to recover from the recession.