In a Sunday evening segment, Fox News business reporter Brenda Buttner suggested that the loss of public sector jobs — which have come largely out of cities, counties, school districts and states — is actually “a positive” development for the U.S. economy.
“Government is a little bit losing jobs, and that’s something that we see as a positive because we want government to lose jobs to get more in-line with the private sector,” she explained during an appearance on America’s News Headquarters.
She didn’t elaborate on what that actually means — bringing government “more in-line with the private sector” — but her analysis that public sector job losses are “a positive” would strike most economists as quite wrong.
Speaking to U.S. News and World Report last month, Joel Naroff, president of the Pennsylvania-based Naroff Economic Advisers, explained that for every job lost in the public sector, jobs are also lost from the private sector due to the loss of yet another individual or family spending their earnings back into the economy.
“If we’re losing [20,000 to 25,000 jobs] in the public sector, that’s income and spending that doesn’t occur,” he said. “It’s more like [35,000 to 40,000] jobs as a result of that. So one job isn’t just one job; it’s more than one job. And so the private sector gets affected.”
He added the obvious: for every job lost in the public sector, the private sector must work even harder to drive U.S. unemployment down. Public sector job losses due to the end of federal stimulus funds were blamed for November’s mostly neutral jobs report, where private sector growth was dragged down by losses in the public sector.
Public sector losses have been a constant since President Barack Obama took office at the start of 2009, with more than 500,000 laid off by July of 2011. If public sector payrolls had remained closer to the levels seen at the start of 2009, the overall U.S. unemployment rate would be much lower than it is today.
But for Buttner and many on America’s political right, laying off teachers, firefighters, police officers and other city, county and state workers is something to be desired, and right in-line with their often repeated goal of shrinking government.
Although she’s supposed to be a business reporter, Buttner’s appearance Sunday seemed to imply she’s more inclined to cheer Republicans’ efforts to put more people out of work in the middle of a jobs crisis, rather than trumpeting tangible improvements to the nation’s employment outlook.
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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