If we want to understand why so many states teeter on bankruptcy, Stephen Moore, senior economics writer for the Wall Street Journal, says we should look no further than statistics about U.S. workers.
There are now almost twice as many people working for the government (22.5 million) than in all of manufacturing (8.7 million), a reversal from forty years ago:
It gets worse. More Americans work for the government than work in construction, farming, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, mining and utilities combined. We have moved decisively from a nation of makers to a nation of takers. Nearly half of the $2.2 trillion cost of state and local governments is the $1 trillion-a-year tab for pay and benefits of state and local employees. Is it any wonder that so many states and cities cannot pay their bills?
Every state in America today except for two—Indiana and Wisconsin—has more government workers on the payroll than people manufacturing industrial goods. Consider California, which has the highest budget deficit in the history of the states. The not-so Golden State now has an incredible 2.4 million government employees—twice as many as people at work in manufacturing. New Jersey has just under two-and-a-half as many government employees as manufacturers. Florida’s ratio is more than 3 to 1. So is New York’s.
The two states with the highest ratio of government workers to manufacturers are Wyoming and New Mexico. The farming states, like Iowa and Nebraska, have at least five times more government workers than farmers. And although West Virginia is the mining capital of the world, it has “at least three times more government workers than miners.”
This trend isn’t going anywhere. Moore reports that surveys show increasing numbers of college graduates want to work for the government because the security is high and the opportunities are great:
When 23-year-olds aren’t willing to take career risks, we have a real problem on our hands. Sadly, we could end up with a generation of Americans who want to work at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
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