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Rhode Island Has Lost Most Government Jobs in Country Since 2007

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Despite claims of government being too large in Rhode Island, the Ocean State has actually lost the most government jobs (in percentage terms) in the country since 2007, according to a new study.

The study factored in all city, state and federal government jobs, comparing the numbers in September 2007 to the numbers of September 2011. In total, Rhode Island lost about 4,400 government jobs over four years, ranking 33rd among states in jobs lost. The state now has about 59,900 government employees.

The 6.84 percent reduction over four years is the highest in the country, with Nevada being the only other state to have at least 6 percent of its government workforce cut.

22 states, including New Hampshire, actually saw government jobs increase over four years, according to the study. Wyoming, Washington D.C., Montana, South Dakota and North Dakota topped the list of increased government jobs since 2007.

Carcieri’s Drastic Cuts

Among the states cutting the most government jobs were California, Michigan, Florida, Ohio and Georgia. In New England, only Connecticut and Maine reduced their size of government more than Rhode Island in terms of pure numbers.

The state’s reduction in its government workforce came under Republican Governor Don Carcieri, who followed through on a pledge to cut government jobs during his time in office. However, during that same time span, the nation’s economy collapsed, the unemployment rate skyrocketed and Rhode Island was one of the hardest-hit states in the country during the recession.

According to Ocean State Action Executive Director Kate Brock, the cuts to public employees were tantamount to job killing.

“We often hear conservatives talk about the job killing policies of the left: environmental regulation, tax reform, financial regulation, the provision of public services,” Brock said. “They are quick to forget that the state is an employer. They are quick to forget that public employees are taxpayers, and consumers who frequent our states business and inject their government paychecks back into our economy. Governor Carcieri's drastic cuts to the state workforce were job killing, not only for the former state workers who are now unemployed, but to the thousands of businesses throughout the state that out of work Rhode Islanders can no longer afford to patronize.”

Eroding the Workforce

Government jobs have continued to decline month after month in the Ocean State. According to URI economist Leonard Lardaro, who publishes a monthly report on the state’s economy, government employment shrunk by 2.6 percent in August.

By comparison, Connecticut has about four times as many government workers as Rhode Island and only reduced its workforce by 3.4 percent since 2007. Massachusetts’ numbers remained nearly the identical from four years ago, dropping just .62 percent.

And Brock isn’t the only one criticizing the amount of jobs lost in the Ocean State. National Education Association Government Relations Director Patrick Crowley said Governor Carcieri was supposed to increase private sector job creation, but failed to do so.

“The decade of the 2000's, led by Conservative Don Carcieri here in Rhode Island devastated the local economy by eroding the workforce from the ground up,” Crowley said. “It was supposed to spur private sector job creation - well, the working class and the middle class are still waiting for the jobs while Don Carcieri and his buddies are laughing all the way to the bank.”


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