Government Employees: An Unimpressive Right-Sizing

According to the Center for State and Local Government Excellence, for the second year in row, “state and local governments are hiring.” The organization’s survey of HR managers found that 73 percent reported new hires in the past year, with 54 percent adding more employees than they did in 2013.

In an interview with the Pew Research Center’s website Stateline, Brian Sigritz of the National Association of State Budget Officers lamented that while employment is on the rise, he was “not expecting a surge in hiring. It’s definitely not back to where it was, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it never got back.”

In New Mexico, returning to “where it was” won’t be difficult. State employment peaked, not surprisingly, during Bill Richardson’s administration. The Great Recession imposed layoffs that reduce the workforce, from 2007 to 2012, by 13.5 percent. It stood at 45,250 in 2013, up just a bit from 2012.


At the local level, employment peaked at 81,798 in 2009. It fell to 78,559 — a drop of 4.0 percent — in 2012, and rose by a few hundred in 2013.


Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Note: Figures are for full-time equivalent positions

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3 Replies to “Government Employees: An Unimpressive Right-Sizing”

  1. So, just to get this straight, New Mexico has a total of approximately 124,000 full time state and local government employees (45,250+ 78,559 + a few hundred). How many federal employees? And, the big question would be what is total employment here, just to get a feel for our private sector.

    1. To answer your question, Mr. Richardson, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has federal employment at 29,400 in May. That makes government’s share of New Mexico employment around 18-19 percent. But a better figure was generated by the Mercatus Center a few years back. It looked at all “public” employment as well as jobs tied to federal contracting. That figure was 31.9 percent, the biggest share for any state.

  2. I get a kick out of the folks who call for filling vacant positions in government to stimulate the economy. If New Mexico’s population is declining, we should be seeing a proportional decline in number of state and municipal employees.

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