Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Madness of Austerity in One Chart

From Mother Jones
January's job numbers were fairly dismal, but the bad cheer wasn't equally spread. Private sector employment, as usual, increased—by 142,000 jobs last month. At the same time, public sector employment declined. Government employment at all levels was down 29,000 in January.Aside from the brief census blip in early 2010, this has been the usual state of affairs for the past four years, ever since the recession officially ended. The chart below shows public and private sector employment indexed to 100 at the end of the recession. Private sector employment is up 6.8 percent. Public sector employment is down 3.4 percent. And that's during a period when population grew 2.3 percent. On a per capita basis, government employment has declined more than 5 percent since 2009, and it's still declining.This is the price of austerity. If public sector employment had been growing normally during this period, we'd have about a million more jobs than we do now and the unemployment rate would probably be below 6 percent. We are our own worst enemies.
See more here.


  1. Maybe I'm missing something, but surely this graph shows exactly what pro-austerity people say we'll get: the private sector stepping in to fill the gap as public sector jobs are cut?

    1. It would be true if the private recovery was strong enough, which it isn't. That's why I like my version best It shows government employment in the aftermath of two recessions, the 1990-91 one and the 2007-8 one.

    2. I agree, Matias' version is shows a mere a complete opposite of results, the former counter-cyclical, the latter pro-cyclical.


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