The government isn't hiring, either

A big chunk of September's job losses came from the public sector. Should we be encouraged by that?

Published October 2, 2009 7:03PM (EDT)

An addendum to this morning's labor report:

Time's Justin Fox reports that "Ian Shepherdson of High Frequency Economics offers a teeny-weeny bit of encouragement:"

The details are not quite as bad as the headline because the govt component fell a hefty 53K, so private payrolls were down 210K, not statistically different from Aug's -182K but better than previous months.

But why should we be relieved to know that a big chunk of the job losses came from the government? At the New York Times' Economix blog, Catherine Rampell explains that those losses come mostly from state and local governments reeling from "severe budget shortfalls."

California is probably exhibit A for that argument. And while it may be a good sign that private sector layoffs are flattening out, I would assume that increasing public sector layoffs would eventually dampen consumer spending even further, placing even more pressure on bottom lines everywhere.

UPDATE: Noam Scheiber has more on the government layoff "mystery."

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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Great Recession How The World Works Unemployment U.s. Economy