I’m not getting into the relative merits of having additional government employees, but it’s a simple fact that governments at all levels have added employees as the nation’s population has increased — and those increases have generally been affected hardly at all by recessions.

But this time is different.

As I note in my City Talk column today looking at the latest local jobs data from the Georgia Department of Labor, public employment (federal, state, and private) is virtually stagnant compared to a year ago.

I also note another sector that’s virtually stagnant: construction. That’s despite some recent and encouraging gains in virtually every other significant sector, from hospitality to manufacturing.

Just a couple of graphs from Calculated Risk that show that our local trends are a reflection of national ones.

First, here are the trends for state and local employment in recent years nationwide:

And construction jobs nationally:

Construction typically is a strong driver out of recessions; the lag in that sector is a key reason the recovery seems so sluggish.

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