Limbaugh Is "Epically Wrong" About Government Job Losses


Rush Limbaugh accused President Obama of lying about government job losses and, citing a blog post by National Review's Jim Geraghty, claimed that "government employment is actually increasing." In fact, seasonally-adjusted job numbers show that the public sector has been cutting massive amounts jobs, a point Geraghty was forced to acknowledge when he updated the post.

Limbaugh Accused Obama Of Lying About Loss of Government Jobs

Limbaugh, Citing Geraghty, Claims "Government Employment Is Actually Increasing." From Rush Limbaugh's radio show:

LIMBAUGH: The undercurrent here, by the way, is that look who's losing their jobs. Federal workers, government workers. Look who's losing those jobs. And it turns out, the president is - Well, he's wrong. He is making a big pitch in terms of explaining high unemployment, claiming that the majority of it is government workers. Mark Knoller of CBS, covering this town hall with the president this morning, reported this: "President Obama blames the high unemployment rate on huge layoffs of government workers at federal, state, and local levels."

It -- Jim Geraghty has a very comprehensive post at his blog at National Review Online called the Campaign Spot. It is completely wrong, it is epically wrong, as Geraghty says. But note, who do they drag out for a question to back up what the president's saying about the reason for high unemployment is primarily people in government jobs losing theirs. So Geraghty has gone to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and published a lot of numbers here on private sector employment over periods of time, and public sector employment.


But, the bottom line is that government employment is actually increasing. There are not droves and droves of layoffs. The numbers indicate that local government employment is increasing, not decreasing. I mean, Obama's not even a little bit right about this. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 5/12/11]

But Geraghty Was Forced To Correct His Post And Acknowledge That Gov't Employment Has In Fact Decreased

Geraghty Acknowledged That Government Has Shed Jobs. Jim Geraghty subsequently updated the post Limbaugh cited:

ANOTHER UPDATE: In the comments, Reno Dave notes that in one case I used seasonally-adjusted numbers instead of non-seasonally adjusted numbers. I have added the non-seasonally-adjusted number for consistency. He notes that using the seasonally adjusted numbers, the total government workforce has varied slightly differently in the selected months:

June 2007: 22,218,000.

January 2009: 22,582,000.

January 2010: 22,488,000.

April 2011: 22,166,000 (preliminary).

You end up with 300,000 or so fewer government workers in the past 16 months. (Notice that the Census hiring effects these numbers a bit; the number of Census employees went from 24,000 in January 2010 to 564,000 in May 2010 all the way down to 1,000 in October 2010. More details here.) [National Review Online, The Campaign Spot, 5/12/11]

Indeed, The Public Sector Has Been Shedding Jobs

BLS Data Shows Clear Decline In Government Jobs. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, government employment, when adjusted for seasonal variables, has been decreasing for months and is currently 416,000 jobs below where it stood in January 2009:

[Bureau of Labor Statistics, accessed 5/13/11]

Most Recent BLS Employment Report: Governments Shed 24,000 Jobs. The Hill reported on May 8, "The private sector is hiring; governments are firing; and political leaders are battling over what that means." The Hill also reported:

For months, Republicans have argued that government spending has encroached on private-sector investment, crippling the ability of small businesses to hire new employees. Democrats have countered that targeted federal spending - such as emergency funding to keep teachers and police officers on state payrolls - is the better recipe for keeping the economy going amid the lingering jobs crisis.

Friday's report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that the economy created 244,000 jobs in April -- 268,000 new private sector jobs, minus the 24,000 federal, state and local government jobs that disappeared. [The Hill, 5/8/11]

Economist Mark Zandi: Public Payroll Cuts Could Increase Unemployment. From a February 4 Bloomberg BusinessWeek article:

President Barack Obama's goal of driving the unemployment rate below 9 percent this year is threatened by state and local budget cuts that are likely to intensify as Federal stimulus money runs out.

Austerity measures may add as much as 0.25 percentage point to the unemployment rate this year, according to Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics Inc.

"This could make the difference between ending 2011 with unemployment above or below 9 percent," he said. "There's no more serious drag on economic growth than the severe budget cutbacks at the state and local level."

Reductions in public payrolls will ripple through the economy, slicing revenue at companies that rely on government contracts and depressing spending among those who are thrown out of work, Zandi said. The result could be the loss of 600,000 jobs in the fiscal year that starts July 1, he said. [Bloomberg BusinessWeek, 2/4/11]

Posted In
Economy, Jobs, Wages, & Unemployment
National Review Online
Rush Limbaugh, Jim Geraghty
The Rush Limbaugh Show
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