A recent column in the Wall Street Journal by Stephen Moore highlights the growing issue of government job growth versus job growth in the private sector.
Beneath the looming shadow of government bankruptcy in many states, lies an issue that’s been steadily brewing for the last 50 years. Today, government employees outnumber manufacturing employees by nearly double. In fact, Moore points out that state workers now outnumber workers in construction, farming, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, mining and utilities combined.
It can certainly be argued that many of these industries have simply become more efficient over the last 50 years, requiring less manpower. However, while farmers are three times more efficient now than in the 1950s, there has been no similar efficiency boost in government organizations. In fact, we’ve seen quite the opposite.
In his column, Moore explains that the government sector has actually lost efficiency. Education is a perfect example. Rather than fewer educators, smaller school budgets and higher graduation rates, we’ve gone the opposite direction. In the last 30 years, spending per pupil has doubled (adjusted for inflation) and public school employment has doubled per pupil while standardized test scores have remained level.
Moore uses transportation as another example. While we continue to spend more government funds on mass transit, fewer Americans use public transportation now that at any time in recent history.
Unfortunately, Moore doesn’t see this trend changing anytime soon. According to recent surveys of college students, an increasing number of graduates wish to work for the government. With the amount of hiring being done by government agencies and the promise of lifetime benefits, you can’t exactly blame them. This sad state of affairs is a troubling sign for private sector growth, ingenuity and subsequently the state of our economy.
As Moore so precisely points out in the last line of his column, the only way to set our economy up for success in the future is to “grow the economy that makes things, not the sector that takes things.”
Moore’s column can be viewed here.