What slowdown? Government keeps hiring

June 2, 2008

The sluggish economy has prompted businesses to pull back on hiring, but units of local government keep adding workers as if nothing has changed.

In the Indianapolis area in April, local governments employed 2,200 more workers than the same month last year, according to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

The growth to 79,100 workers in April was an increase of 2.9 percent from a year earlier, and a continuation of a trend under way for decades in the metro area. The April figure is preliminary and subject to revision.

Local government includes schools, city- and county-owned hospitals, police, fire and other functions.

About a fourth of the increase in April was in education, and another fourth in hospitals, said Vicki Seegert, manager of the department's Advanced Economic and Market Analysis Group. The balance was spread across other areas of government.

Further analysis is difficult because the department doesn't gather specifics.

"They tell us what, but they don't tell us why," Seegert said.

Still, she thinks some of the year-to-year increase in education was driven by the addition of full-day kindergarten.

The rise in local government contrasts with caution exercised by business.

Some sectors of the private sector are still growing, including transportation and warehousing and general merchandise.

But one area that had grown rapidly, temporary services, has leveled off. Another stagnant sector is professional, scientific and technical services.

State and federal government are barely growing.

Employment in state government in the Indianapolis area has leveled off at about 30,000. Similarly, federal employment is static at about 14,600.


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