Public Sector Employment and the Recession
The recession was not caused by the growth of public sector employment. One reason why some people still think the cuts are necessary is the widespread belief that the last government splashed out on public sector jobs before the recession began. But that isn’t what happened – certainly its true that, once the recession began, they dramatically increased public spending and employment in an effort to counter the collapse of demand.
And thank goodness they did, without that the UK could have had something like the collapse of employment that the US experienced. But in the period before the recession, it’s important to remember that the government was cutting public sector jobs. I was prompted to point this out because I was looking through the latest issue of Social Trends, looking for something else, when I came across this chart:
That big increase in 2009 is a bit misleading, because it includes the banks taken into public ownership (but part of it is real). But I want to emphasise the three years before that: there’s a danger that the myth will become established that, as the country entered recession, we wastefully created thousands of public sector jobs and that of course they’ve got to be cut now. That simply isn’t what happened.