Tatiana posted Friday about the dismal job’s report. Since then, there’s been a lot of commentary about the high volume of temporary government jobs, and how it would be preferably if a greater portion of those jobs were private sector.
But really the problem goes much further. It’s actually a good thing that all of those government jobs are temporary census jobs, and it would be a better thing if the government hadn’t “created” any jobs at all. Government jobs are taxpayer liabilities. They add to our national debt, take money out of the private sector, and rarely are productive in terms of helping the economy grow.
Certainly some government jobs are necessary and pass a cost-benefit analysis. Providing for a defense, having a legal system that enforces contracts and property rights, and creating some basic infrastructure all facilitate commerce and create conditions necessary for economic activity and growth. Yet it’s hard to imagine that any additional federal government job is actually serving this purpose and facilitating growth (much more likely, it’s impeding growth). Certainly there may be a need for more staff on some vital matters, but clearly there’s lots of government jobs that should be cut (like the entire Department of Agriculture, for starters). So net government job creation is a bad thing.
The public clearly understands that government jobs are no replacement for private sector job creation. Yet in assessing the job numbers, they need to also understand that the creation of government jobs isn’t just neutral-it’s likely to drive our economy in the wrong direction.