Total government employment for federal, state and local government equals 21.9 million as of 2012. Government, excluding education and public hospital employment has 10.4 million jobs, which is the difference of 21.9 million and 10.2 million jobs in public education and 1.3 million public hospital jobs.
Jobs in government excluding education and hospitals include office work for executive offices, regulatory and legislative bodies, and the judiciary, but also all the rest of the jobs in parks, recreation, public health excluding public hospitals, public works, corrections and a few more. Federal employment includes the postal service and defense department among others.
Government produces valuable services. Valuable production should be added to Gross Domestic Product to reflect our hard work and productive capacity, but government’s valuable services are rarely sold so there is no market value to record as production. What is it worth to have Congress spend months passing environmental legislation, then to have executive bureaucracies write regulations to administer the law, and then to have courts hear law suits to interpret the law?
There is no ready measure of values to include in GDP so the practice is to value government services at cost. Government cost of production though is labor cost only. When the government buys computers and reams of paper it is recorded as a final sale from business to government. Since the goods and services government buys are already included in GDP as part of business final sales, they are not added again. Government’s cost of labor to provide services represents its contribution to GDP. It guarantees that more government jobs mean more Gross Domestic Product.
The decision to use labor cost as government’s addition to GDP is a sensible compromise in the computation of GDP. Since the objective of computing GDP is to measure our productive capacity, government work should not be ignored. No attempt is made to differentiate between one type of government labor and another. When services are bought in common as they are with government they could be for anything.
On April 1, 2005 the Washington Post published an article about a Congressional investigation: “Cost of Cisneros Probe Nears $21 million Over 10 years.” Cisneros was President Clinton’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development way back in 1995. Congress authorized an independent counsel investigation after allegations that Cisneros lied about payments to his mistress. After 4 years and $10.3 million dollars of investigation, Cisneros pleaded guilty. That was in 1999, but the investigation continued in order to investigate if anyone attempted to obstruct justice, the Washington Post reported. The continued probe added another $10.7 million to the expense, hence the caption “$21 million over 10 years”.
We could say America would be better off if the money used on the Cisneros investigation went into medical research or highway construction, but that is different from saying government should reduce its total expenditures, or even that it wasted money. Either expenditure pumps $21 million into the economy and any cut in government spending whether it is for medical research, highway construction or Cisneros probes will reduce GDP and harm employment. Government is a major employer and even though the government has money to pursue what appears like a political vendetta, as in the Cisneros case, America needs government that is actively creating jobs.
The current expenditures of government add up to $5.659 trillion in 2012 or nearly 35 percent as large as Gross Domestic Product. It is a big enough share to think that government spending by all levels of government provides a mighty engine of employment. All this spending is supported by taxes and borrowing. Taxes reduce private spending and job creation, but those in government are experts at spending all their revenue as fast as they can. They run deficits and make debt finance a way to pep up employment and put off higher taxes. The federal government can borrow but also controls the money supply so it can create money to cover its spending and put off collecting taxes. Local governments can use bond-funded projects to speed up and enlarge spending in the near term and let the growth in property values and higher property taxes pay for capital projects in the future.
The decision to do Cisneros probes or build roads and highways is the decision of government. Builders and developers build a few roads in their new developments, but the roads that get people from here to there are planned and funded by a government. The actual building is typically contracted to private firms in the highway, street and bridge construction industry. The people who work in this industry are counted as part of employment in private business and not counted as government employees. Government employment is already large, but undercounts employment that is the result of government taxing and spending such as employment in the highway, street and bridge construction industry since they are on private payrolls even though their jobs are really the result of government spending. The terms government contractor, outsourcing and privatization all connote private businesses, but they are private businesses doing government funded and government sponsored work. Government employment added to government sponsored employment is more than a mere 21.9 million: much more.
Government creates many jobs both in and out of government but the jobs it has for those on government payrolls has lots of work that develop and support specialized skills and careers in life science, physical science, social science, finance, law, corrections, and transportation. Some of the work is not done anywhere else and requires government funding. We are excluding the jobs in education or public hospitals.
Many of the government’s specialized and professional jobs require college degree training but especially baccalaureate degree training, and that is without mention of the millions of jobs in education, since we are only discussing government excluding education. Nearly 40 percent of jobs in the Federal Government require BA degree skills or higher; 33 percent in state government; 17.5 in local government.
In life science occupations, conservation scientists, zoologists, foresters, epidemiologists have more jobs in government than all other private sector jobs combined, a total of almost 35 thousand jobs. Soil and plant scientists have 2.8 thousand jobs; microbiologists 4.7 thousand jobs. In the physical sciences, astronomers, atmospheric and space scientists, environmental scientists and hydrologists depend on government to maintain work that supported 44.2 thousand jobs in 2012. In the social sciences 90 percent of forensic scientists work for government 11.3 thousand jobs. Nearly 35 percent of all social scientists work in government, almost 80 thousand jobs. Over half of political scientists and nearly half of economists work in government jobs. The percentages apply to those actually working as political scientists and economists and not those teaching at schools and universities. They are counted as faculty in education totals.
In engineering, aerospace engineers, civil engineers, environmental engineers and health and safety engineers over 98 thousand jobs. Government employs 21.6 thousand as mathematicians, statisticians, operations research analysts and cartographers who work in jobs outside of teaching.
Counselors and social workers have 249.9 thousand jobs on government payrolls for those working as practitioners, but many work in health care where government supported or subsidized health care supports another 375.7 thousand jobs. Those totals do not count those teaching and working at schools and universities where there are 260.2 thousand more jobs. Counselors and social workers owe their employment to government.
Then there are courts that employ 100 percent of judges, magistrates, administrative law judges, adjudicators and hearing officers, judicial law clerks and bailiffs, but almost two thirds of court reporters, and more than 20 percent of lawyers. Combine law jobs in the government come to over 259 thousand jobs for 2012.
The courts enforce laws but law enforcement has more than 613.1 thousand government jobs as police and sheriffs patrol officers, another 97.4 thousand as detectives and investigators, but more jobs as fish and game wardens, parking enforcement officers, railroad and transit police, crossing guards, lifeguards and a few more.
Law enforcement generates prisoners. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports 7 million Americans under correctional supervision, or 2.24 million in prisons and jails, 854 thousand on parole and 3.9 million on probation at the beginning of 2012. American needs jobs and millions of prisoners create lots of jobs: 411,050 reported jobs as correctional officers and jailors, 42,870 jobs as first line managers of correctional officers and jailors and 82,910 jobs as Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists.
Outside of the office bureaucracies there were 286 thousand jobs in 2012 on government payrolls as agricultural inspector, construction and building inspector, highway maintenance worker, power plant operator, and water and sewage treatment plant operator. More work in government transportation jobs with 2012 totals of 21.9 thousand air traffic controllers, 2.3 thousand ambulance drivers, 133.9 thousand bus drivers, 8.1 thousand subway and street car drivers, 22.7 thousand heavy and tractor trailer truck drivers, 2.9 thousand bridge and lock tenders and a few more.
Do not forget the postal service where 605 thousand still work as of 2012 doing 509 thousand jobs as postmasters, postal clerks, mail sorters, processors, processing machine operators and letter carriers among other jobs. Remember too we are talking about civilian employment so the armed forces are not included here.
Office and administrative support work support 16.3 percent of jobs in the national economy. Government bureaucracies support a high percentage of jobs in office administration and support jobs. Federal government bureaucracies have 11.9 percent in office administration and support; in state government bureaucracies, excluding education, 18.9 percent; and in local government bureaucracies, excluding education, 18.7 percent.
Budget analysts, financial examiners, and appraisers of real estate have the largest share of jobs in government with 24 thousand budget analysts, 10.1 thousand financial examiners, and 27.2 thousand appraisers. All of tax examiners, collectors and revenue agents work for government more than 65.6 thousand strong, and they support thousands more jobs at accounting firms and tax services.
With a 115.3 million service jobs to divvy up, government service, excluding education and hospital employment gives us 10.4 million jobs, but that is only 7.8 percent of establishment employment. There are no more service jobs left and we have distributed all 115.3 million of them by their NAICS sector categories.
In the period from 1990 to 2012, good production employment declined 7.94 percent as service providing employment increased by 7.94 percent. Remember good production equals the total of jobs for natural resources, principally mining and logging, construction and manufacturing. Manufacturing employment went down 7.3 percent with all natural resources, construction and manufacturing employment in decline. The 7.94 percent decrease is a net, which disguises an even bigger shift out of manufacturing employment.
In service providing employment the 7.94 percent increase disguises shifts within service sectors because even though the net increase is 7.94 percent there are sectors that decreased and a combination of services that increased more than 7.94 percent. It is time to make a summary of service employment changes, which comes up next.