COLUMBUS (TDB) -- There are fewer people on the state's payroll now than in 2007, which is a sign that Gov. Ted Strickland's efforts to "live within our means" have taken hold in some government offices. The current labor market estimate shows Ohio has 166,800 state employees, a reversal of years of growing public payrolls. In December, the state shaved more workers -- 1,300 -- than the battered manufacturing sector, which gave up 1,100 jobs. The stats show the 1,300 state jobs that vanished were equal to the number of construction jobs lost in Ohio due to subprime woes, the housing downturn, and tightening credit markets.
There are signals that the state workforce may shrink even more this year from buyouts, attrituion and voluntary retirements. Republicans have often complained about bloated government payrolls, but they now seem to be targeting Democratic Gov. Strickland for trying to thin the ranks of state workers. Interestingly, the data shows there are 76,800 federal workers in Ohio, up from 75,900 last year. And there are 557,800 local government employees -- people at City Halls and townships, firefighters and cops, for example -- a slight dip from 558,300 last year. All the current jobs data is available HERE (pdf).
In December, Ohio's unemployment rate rose to 6%, a .4% increase partly attributed to the loss of 3,900 jobs across various sectors of the state economy. But it appears that some of the unemployment hike can be tied to the shrinking of the state's workforce -- which means the bureaucracy has temporarily stopped growing. So far, there have been no lay-offs under Strickland, but the state clearly has started to downsize.