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Cuts to Public-Sector Jobs Harm Women, African Americans Most


When public-sector jobs at the state and local levels get slashed, women and African Americans suffer the most. A new report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) details just how devastating recent job cuts have been. Not only are there more such workers in the public sector, but the wage gap across genders is smaller for highly educated women employed in state and local government than in the private sector.

Noting that "historically, the state and local public sectors have provided more equitable opportunities for women and people of color," the report finds:

  • Between 2007 (before the recession) and 2011, state and local governments shed some 765,000 jobs. Women and African Americans comprised about 70 percent and 20 percent, respectively, of those losses.
  • Although the number of private-sector jobs has increased by 3.2 million jobs between the start of the recovery in February 2010 and January 2012, state and local government employment fell by 438,000. Over this period, every major sector of the economy experienced net growth in jobs except the public sector.

In one spot of good news, the report finds that Latino employment in state and local public-sector jobs increased during this period (although most of that increase likely occurred in the lowest-paid jobs).

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