NY’s Booming With Government Employees – Part II

So, as noted in the previous post, local government employment has soared by over 100,000 over 15 years in the portion of New York State outside New York City.  Could population trends explain this?

Not exactly.  In fact, local government employment has fallen steeply relative to population in the city, and risen in the rest of the state.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, New York City’s population rose from 7.3 million in 1990 to 8.15 million in 2005, a gain of over 800,0000.  Accordingly, the number of local government workers per 1,000 residents fell from 64.4 in 1990 to 55.1 in 2005, a substantial decrease of 14.4%.

The rest of the state also gained people, with population rising from 10.7 million to 11.1 million, a gain of over 400,000, according to the Census Bureau.  So steep was the gain in local government employment, however, that the number of local government workers per 1,000 residents rose from 51.1 to 58.5 – a 14.5% increase.  The rest of the state had more local government workers, relative to its population, than New York City in the latter year.

Remember that, in addition to the difference in the way transit workers are counted described in the prior post, New York City provides an extensive transit network, public water, public sewer, public trash collection, and professional (not volunteer) fire protection.  Such public services are not provided everywhere else in the state.  Moreover, having worked on the 2000 census for New York City Planning, I can say with confidence that some of the “gain” in the city’s population during the 1990s was simply counting people who were already there.  In 1990, the city’s ratio of public employees to people, therefore, was already lower than it seems in the table below.

Even so, in 1990 New York City’s employment/population ratio for public school employees — 18.9 per 1,000 residents – was already far lower than the average for the rest of the state – at 27.1 per 1,000.   By 2005 that gap had grown.  The ratio had fallen to 18.4 public school employees per 1,000 residents in New York City.  It has soared to 32.0 per thousand in the rest of the state.

For other local government categories, in 2005 New York City continued to have more employed per 1,000 residents, at 36.7, than the rest of the state, at 26.5, as one would expect given the difference in the scope of services.  While the ratio of employment to population has fallen steeply since 1990 in NYC (from 45.5), it has increased in the rest of the state (from 24.1), hardly indicative of an increase in productivity there.  And the public schools outside of New York City are another matter entirely.

Local Gov Employment