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Justin Fox

Does Anyone Want a Government Job? Anyone?

State and local governments are still way short of pre-pandemic employment levels, creating shortages of essential workers.

The public sector is lagging behind.

The public sector is lagging behind.

Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

Businesspeople in the US have been complaining for more than a year about how hard it is to hire anybody. Their public-sector counterparts have had it worse, though, and it might not just be a pandemic thing.

To put it in numbers, nonfarm private-sector employment in the US was 885,000 higher in August than before the pandemic in February 2020, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. (That’s seasonally adjusted; without the adjustment it was 3.3 million higher.) Government employment was still down by 645,000.