See below for charts and tables showing public sector employment recovery; I try to update these about every month as BLS issues new data.
(Note that there is more limited availability of seasonal monthly data for states, so you can’t see the same level of detail for California as for the U.S.).
July 2008 was the peak of state & local government employment before the Great Recession. February 2020 was the peak of state & local government employment before the COVID-19 pandemic; but even before the pandemic, public employment had still not recovered everywhere, and was well behind population growth since 2008.
Both nationally and in California, the private sector recovery has outpaced public employment recovery. Nationally, federal employment has recovered and even increased over the past few months, but that’s not the case in California.
(Note: state-level data doesn’t allow breakdown within local and state employment except for nonseasonal data, so see below for some indication of what accounts for the areas of lag in employment recovery within local and state employment in California).
What areas of government employment are responsible for decline?
It’s difficult to see recent trends in job loss within the government sector. Occupation data (OES) from May 2022 won’t be available until later in 2023, and that will still be a year behind. So for the state level, we only have local, state, and federal trends available on a recent monthly basis.
However, we can look at education v. non-education at the local or state level by examining nonseasonal employment trends. Below I overlaid monthly employment trends for local non-education employment in California, for 2019 through current data (February 2023). You can see the enormous drop-off in March 2020, and the steady rebuilding of employment in 2021, 2022, and 2023. But we’re so far below 2019 levels, which is especially surprising given the enormous infusions of federal aid and a very healthy state budget.