Government Employment Dropped 585,000 in May—Hits Lowest Level in 19 Years

By Terence P. Jeffrey | June 5, 2020 | 9:35am EDT
(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

( - The number of people working for government in the United States dropped by 585,000 in May, bringing government employment in this country to it lowest level in 19 years, according to data published today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This happened at the same time that overall employment in the United States was increasing in May.

“In May, employment rose sharply in leisure and hospitality, construction, education and health services, and retail trade,” the BLS said in its monthly jobs report. “By contrast, employment in government continued to decline sharply.”

In April, there were 21,765,000 people working for government in the United States. In May, that dropped to 21,180,000—a decline of 585,000.

The 21,180,000 who were employed by government in May was the smallest number since June 2001, when the government employed 21,137,000.

May marked the third straight month that government employment has dropped in the United States.

From January to February of this year, government employment increased by 31,000 (rising from 22,714,000 to 22,745,000. But then from February to March, it declined by 17,000 (dropping from 22,745,000 to 22,728,000). From March to April, it declined by 963,000 (dropping from 22,728,000 to 21,765,000). From April to May it declined by 585,000 (dropping from 21,765,000 to 21,180,000).

Since February, the number of people employed by government in the United States has declined by 1,565,000.

Employment declined at the federal, state and local levels of government from April to May.

Federal government employment declined by 14,000 (dropping from 2,887,000 in April to 2,873,000 in May). State government employment declined by 84,000 (dropping from 4,995,000 in April to 4,911,000 in May). Local government employment declined by 487,000 (dropping from 13,883,000 in April to 13,396,000).

“In May, employment continued to decline in government (-585,000), following a drop of

963,000 in April,” BLS said in its jobs report.

“Employment in local government was down by 487,000 in May,” said BLS. “Local government education accounted for almost two-thirds of the decrease (-310,000), reflecting school closures. Employment also continued to decline in state government (-84,000), particularly in state education (-63,000).”

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