The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

August 23, 2010
Schwarzenegger's job chart

100817 Job loss chart.JPG

Capitol Bureau intern Queenie Wong's post, "Schwarzenegger: State employees 'not in touch with reality,' " featured video of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger speaking to the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce in Los Angeles.

During a Q&A with the audience, the governor referenced the job chart pictured above that illustrates how, in his estimation, state workers have been spared the fate that has befallen the private sector during the recession and hence are out of touch with reality.

We asked the administration for a bit more detail about the chart.

We found out that the mostly-flat yellow line represents all California public employees -- local, state and federal -- not just California government employees. Schwarzenegger didn't make that distinction in Los Angeles.

"The yellow line represents state employees," he said.

So we ran the 2008 and 2009 state worker counts using the monthly payroll data from State Controller's Office , then figured out the month-to-month shifts in the size of the workforce. That's what this chart shows:

100820 state jobs.JPG

It's not clear from the data how much of the state's downward shifts came from layoffs versus retirement or voluntary separation. And remember that the 2008-2009 figures don't reflect the job cuts that hit prison teachers and vocational instructors earlier this year. Those 900 or so layoffs were, to our knowledge, the largest hit taken by any department in the last few years.

Parting question: Is job loss the only legitimate way to measure "pain"? Or is there something that the governor's chart misses?

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at jortiz@sacbee.com.

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