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Opinion
Justin Fox

Government Work Has Been Going Out of Style

The federal, state and local governments now employ a smaller share of the U.S. workforce than at any time since 1957.

It’s not always sunny.

It’s not always sunny.

Photographer: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

While overall U.S. nonfarm payroll employment went up by 201,000 in August, according to today’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, government employment fell by 3,000, to 22.3 million. That put government’s share of employment at 14.97 percent, the lowest it’s been since 1957.

As noted in the chart, this does not include uniformed military. If it did, the drop since the mid-1970s would be even more pronounced, given that there were 2.1 million military personnel on active duty in 1975 and just 1.3 million as of this June.