Are State Jobs Where it’s At?

It has been reported that 70% of the graduate in my masters program end up working for the federal government. I have seen this statistic become a reality, as many of my classmates have already secured employment with the State Department, GAO, and OMB. However, a professor of mine (commenting on the budgetary restrictions facing the Fed and the veteran’s preference mandate) encouraged us to pursue employment in state and local government. Is a state job the way to go for newly minted minds of the public sector?

Leave a Comment


Leave a Reply

Dave Uejio

With all due respect to your professor, I just don’t think the facts support that advice at all, and here’s why:

  1. State and local government have shed a ton of jobs in the recession (over 400,000). In fact if state and local payrolls had stayed flat throughout the recession, unemployment would be considerably lower. Ezra Klein makes this point here.
  2. This has subsequently resulted in state and local government underperforming nearly every other sector in the economy, as demonstrated by Matt Yglesias here.
  3. Despite what Rick Perry might insist, most states draw considerable funds from the Federal government; as the Fed goes, so go the states. Here’s a nice chart showing the reliance of various states on Federal dollars.

Now obviously those are just national level trends – some states (including Texas!) are still growing in terms of the economy, population, and yes, government jobs. If you live in an area like that, or are willing to relocate to one, far be it from me to talk down another tool in the kit. Maybe you live somewhere where municipalities will try and buy out more expensive seasoned employees and you can get 2 of those jobs for a fraction of their salary. Otherwise, I’d keep networking and get yourself ready for Pathways.