Karl Rove has joined other media conservatives in downplaying the severity of job losses in the public sector by touting data showing the unemployment rate among government workers in May was 4.2 percent. However, that statistic doesn't change the fact that public sector job cuts in this recovery have been more severe compared with previous recoveries, and experts note that these cuts threaten the recovering economy and impact job growth in the private sector.
Rove, a Fox contributor and anti-Obama super PAC co-founder, appeared today on the Fox "straight news" program America's Newsroom and downplayed Obama's concerns about public sector jobs. "Friday was, of course, the president's comment where he said, The private economy is doing fine. What I'm worried about is state and local government workers," he said, adding: "Unemployment among state and local government employees is 4.2 percent, almost half the national average."
By touting the statistic that the unemployment rate among government workers in May was 4.2 percent, Rove is downplaying the severity of public sector job cuts. Indeed, public sector job cuts in this recovery have been more severe compared with previous recoveries and threaten the recovering economy.
Since mid-2009, the public sector has lost over 550,000 jobs. According to the Economic Policy Institute, this loss of jobs sharply contrasts with other recent recoveries. EPI pointed out that if public sector employment had increased the way it did in previous recoveries, "there would be 1.2 million more public-sector jobs in the U.S. economy today" and "these extra public-sector jobs would have helped preserve about 500,000 private-sector jobs." The Economist likewise noted that, although public-sector jobs usually increase following economic downturns, "for much of the past two years the biggest source of job losses has been the public sector."
Moreover, experts agree that public-sector job losses damage the overall economy and threaten recovery. Economist Mark Zandi has said that job loss at the state and local government level "is the most serious weight on the job market." Scott Brown, the chief economist at the Florida-based financial firm Raymond James & Associates, has said that the economy would likely be growing a full percentage point faster without the drag from government job losses. And the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities has reported that government job losses hurt those who don't work in government.
It should also be noted that Fox once again gave Rove a platform to launch conservative talking points and attack Obama without identifying Rove's affiliation with American Crossroads, the PAC he co-founded to attack Democratic candidates. Co-host Martha MacCallum merely described him as the "former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush" and a "Fox News contributor," and a caption that aired during the segment indicated that he is "known as the 'architect' of Pres. Bush's 2000 and 2004 campaigns."