Labor Department statistics say that government employment has decreased by 608,000 since February 2009. Nevertheless, Fox News and Politico both uncritically reported Mitt Romney's false claim that "[w]e have 145,000 more government workers under this president."
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Fact: Government Employment Has Decreased By 608,000 Under Obama
Bureau Of Labor Statistics: Government Employment Has Decreased By 608,000 Since Feb. 2009. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, government employment has decreased by 608,000 from February 2009 through April 2012:
[Bureau of Labor Statistics, accessed 5/29/12, via research.stlouisfed.org]
In July 2011, PolitiFact.com Rated As "True" Statement That There Are "Half A Million Fewer Government Employees Now Than There Were When Obama Took Office." From PolitiFact.com:
In the July 11, 2011, edition of the New York Times, Paul Krugman -- a Nobel Prize-winning economist and liberal columnist -- noted a statistic about recent trends in government employment.
He wrote, "Everybody knows that President (Barack) Obama tried to stimulate the economy with a huge increase in government spending, and that it didn't work. But what everyone knows is wrong. Think about it: Where are the big public works projects? Where are the armies of government workers? There are actually half a million fewer government employees now than there were when Mr. Obama took office."
Has government employment really gone down in the past two and a half years? We looked in the databases for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the federal government's official tabulator of employment statistics.
We found that between January 2009 (when Obama took office) and June 2011 (the most recent month available), Krugman was right for overall government employment -- the combination of federal, state and local government workers. Overall government employment declined by 518,000 workers, or about 2.3 percent of the January 2009 level. [PolitiFact.com, 7/11/11]
NY Times In November: "More Than 500,000" Public-Sector Jobs Have Been Lost "Since The Start Of The Recession." From a November 28, 2011, article in The New York Times:
But during the past year, while the private sector has added 1.6 million jobs, state and local governments have shed at least 142,000 positions, according to the Labor Department. Those losses are in addition to 200,000 public-sector jobs lost in 2010 and more than 500,000 since the start of the recession. [The New York Times, 11/28/11]
Fox News, Politico Repeat Romney's False Claim About Govt. Employment
Politico: At Colorado Campaign Stop, "Romney Said" That "We Have 145,000 More Government Workers Under This President." From Politico:
President Barack Obama's campaign is "trying to find a twig to hang on to," Mitt Romney told a Tuesday morning crowd here [in Craig, Colorado].
"This president is looking for someone to blame," Romney told a crowd of locals and bused-in coal-miners in this town of 9,000.
Romney also continued his attack on Obama's 2009 stimulus package, saying that he will seek to assist private sector employment at the expense of public sector jobs.
"That stimulus he put in place, it didn't help private sector jobs, it helped preserve government jobs and the one place we should have shut back -- or cut back was on government jobs," Romney said. "We have 145,000 more government workers under this president. Let's send them home and put you back to work." [Politico, 5/29/12]
Fox's Cameron Says "Romney Is Also Accusing The President Of Undermining Free Enterprise" Before Playing Clip Of Romney's "145,000 More Government Workers" Claim. On the May 29 edition of Fox News' Studio B, Fox News chief political correspondent Carl Cameron said that Romney is "accusing the president of undermining free enterprise by bloating big government" before a clip of Romney speaking in Colorado was aired:
CAMERON: Earlier today in Colorado, Mr. Romney launched a weeklong counteroffensive on the president's attacks on his business record at Bain Capital, what Romney calls Mr. Obama's "hostility to free enterprise."
CAMERON: Romney is also accusing the president of undermining free enterprise by bloating big government with, among other things, more than $3 billion in what he says are politically motivated stimulus projects that failed, including green-energy projects like Solyndra.
ROMNEY [video clip]: That stimulus he put in place -- it didn't help private sector jobs, it helped preserve government jobs. And the one place we should have shut back -- or cut back was on government jobs. We have 145,000 more government workers under this president. Let's send them home and put you back to work. [Fox News, Studio B, 5/29/12]