Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Big Government in Metro Dayton: Employment.

Continuing the series of posts related to the Tea Party tomorrow.

One way to measure the size of government is how many people are employed by government, or, in other words, how many people get their pay from tax revenue vs. the private sector economy.

The Bureau of Labor Statistcs has this information. And they have not only for the Federal government but state and local government too, and public education, by metropolitan area. Since this is the same data set used to measure private sector employment a direct comparsion is possible.

So, for the five county metro area, here are trends in government employment, starting with the feds.

Federal Government Employment in Metro Dayton

The BLS time series goes back far enough to permit tracking of employment over past administrations. This is useful in that federal employment responds to public policy shifts instead of the economy, so highs and lows are driven by budget allocations.

This was the case in the Dayton region, where federal employment dropped from a high of around 28,000 over the course of the two terms of the Clinton adminstration, and then plateaued and dropped a bit some more under Bush.

Federal employment here is relatively high, due to the military presence. As a comparison, for 2000, for the other two second tier metro areas in Ohio, Toledo and Akron, average annual federal employment for the start and end of the study period:

Akron, 1990: 2,500
Akron, 2008: 2,300

Toldeo, 1990: 2,900
Toledo, 2008: 2,500

The drop in the Dayton area was most likley due to a mix of downsizing due to the end of the Cold War (which is already evident in the first Bush administration) and perhaps an outsourcing in defense work under the Clinton (which was recently mentioned in the news).

Long time residents of the area recall the Defense Electronic Supply Center in Kettering was closed as part of the post Cold War downsizing, so an example of the attrition in employment.

State Government Employment

Ohio apparently has a presence in the area, perhaps ODOT offices, the state police, and perhaps other government agencies. This presence is pretty minimal, and declined under the Taft administration after being fairly stable under Voinovich.

BLS also has numbers for "education services". This would, presumably, be the staff of Wright State and Central State universities. Or maybe it's something else. Not sure if community colleges count here. Again a fairly stable trend until the last few years, were there is a small uptick.

Local Government Employment.

The Tax Party supporters are opposed to big government, but they usually mean the Feds. For the Dayton Metro Area big government is really at the local level.

And, unlike Federal employment, which is shrinking, and state employment, which is fairly stable, local government employment is growing after a dip around 1999, showing a steady upward trend until the last three years.

Local government employment accounts for the police and fire departments as well as public works workers and other local officials. And perhaps the high numbers of officials of various types is due to the "city income tax" permtting growth at the municiple level; it is the citizens of the area, via their support of tax levies, that support a growing government sector.

The BLS also has education services employment, which is presumably public schools. As with the state numbers teachers and administrators outnumber the local officials, but unlike them, show a bit of a downward trend in the reent past.

Looking at the totals for the Dayton metro area, the drops are due to Federal declines, but these are made up by increases in local government, to the point the locals + state outnumbers the feds in 2008.

Comparing Private and Public Sector Employment

Using the BLS sources and the division of the private sector economy into a "goods producing" (construction and manufacturing) and "services producing" sector (as we've seen in this post),
Link and using the Census of Agriculture to obtain farm operators and workers, one can do a comparison of government and private sector employment:

So, even given the relatively high Federal numbers, government employment is only 9% of the metro workforce for 2008.

However, as noted on the chart, there is a hidden economy. Some of the work that is counted as private is really public, funded by taxes. For example, for the new sewer system in Sugarcreek Township or the new freeway interchange at Austin Road, the engineering calculations and design could be contracted out to a private sector engineering firm (services producing) and the actual building done by a contractor (goods producing), but the money is still public money, even though the jobs are not counted that way.

Which we will look at next. The actual money flowing into the metropolitan area from the government. In this case the Federal government as the state data isn't readily available.

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