The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

October 13, 2011
Berkeley report: Don't blame public employees for budget woes

111013 Government jobs chart.JPGA new report from the University of California, Berkeley's Center for Labor Research and Education and Center for Wage and Employment Dynamics finds that state budget woes around the country have come from imploding housing markets and the Great Recession -- not public employee costs.

The report takes a look at the relationship between public sector workers, their unions, and state budget deficits.

"The Wrong Target: Public Sector Unions and State Budget Deficits" by researchers Sylvia Allegretto, Ken Jacobs and Laurel Lucia concludes that:

The share of state and local government jobs has remained relatively steady, whether measured per thousand residents or as a percentage of all jobs (illustrated by the chart above).

States with the lowest union density averaged 74.6 state and local employees per thousand residents in 2009, while the highest union density states averaged 68.3. This study shows that the number of state and local employees per thousand actually fell in the high union density states between 2001 and 2009.

There is no correlation between union density and the size of state budget deficits.

State budget deficits were due, in large part, to the decline in house prices and ensuing recession.
The Wrong Target: Public Sector Unions and State Budget Deficits

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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


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