Does Anyone Want a Government Job? Anyone?

Businesspeople in the US have been complaining for more than a year about how hard it is to hire anybody. Their public-sector counterparts have had it worse, though, and it might not just be a pandemic thing.

To put it in numbers, nonfarm private-sector employment in the US was 885,000 higher in August than before the pandemic in February 2020, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. (That’s seasonally adjusted; without the adjustment it was 3.3 million higher.) Government employment was still down by 645,000.

This actually understates the private-public divergence. Last month, the BLS reported that its annual benchmarking of payroll jobs numbers against unemployment insurance tax records showed private-sector employment to be an estimated 571,000 higher than reported as of last March and government employment 109,000 lower. These numbers won’t be finalized and incorporated into the monthly jobs data until January, though, so just be aware that the government jobs declines are even bigger than shown in the charts here.