If you think the Obama administration has been characterized by a big expansion of government employment, you’re wrong.
Bill McBride at Calculated Risk has updated his charts of public sector payrolls under President Barack Obama and his recent predecessors.
As you can see, it’s not even close.
Obama in the dark blue line has seen a sustained and violent slump in public sector employment since he became president, and we’re not even close to closing the gap.
Reagan had a brief decline in public sector employment, but it came back fast. All the other presidents saw only gains on this measure.
So what’s the takeaway?
Partisans will point out that Obama doesn’t deserve any “credit” for the decline in government employment, because most of it has happened at the state and local levels.
And that’s true as far as it goes, but it misses the simple story, which is that the Obama economy is facing a headwind that simply has not been seen in decades. If it hadn’t been for the collapse in public-sector employment, the jobs picture would currently look much brighter than it is.
If you want to understand why Obama’s jobs recovery had been mediocre, this is a great place to look.