NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

States Lay Off Employees to Pare Costs

February 11, 2003

More than 40 states and countless local governments are warning that public sector jobs will be cut or privatized to close budget gaps. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, eight states have had layoffs so far this year.

  • As many as 150,000 state and local employees could lose their jobs over the next several years, equal to roughly 10 percent of the 1.5 million such workers added since 1998, reports Reason Institute researcher Adrian Moore.
  • There are currently about 18.6 million state and local government workers, compared with 2.7 million federal employees -- and the later group actually shrank during the 1990s as federal jobs were privatized.
  • Many state and local government workers -- accustomed to frequent and generous pay raises during the last decade, as well as a high degree of job security -- are disillusioned by the new environment.

Personnel specialists say displaced government workers may have a tough time finding employment in the private sector. They will be competing for positions with a flood of job candidates with private sector backgrounds -- and recruiters tend to favor the later.

Source: Kris Maher, "States, Cities Lay Off Workers As Revenues Fall," Wall Street Journal, February 11, 2003.

For text (WSJ subscription required),,SB1044914820616726303-search,00.html


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