The Wrong Target: Public Sector Unions and State Budget Deficits

Source: Sylvia A. Allegretto, Ken Jacobs and Laurel Lucia, University of California Berkeley, Center for Labor Research and Education, Policy Brief, October 2011

From the press release:
A new report finds that budget woes in states across the United States are
due to bursting of the housing bubble and the great recession, and not public sector workers and their unions. The report from the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education and Center for Wage and Employment Dynamics analyzes the relationship between public sector workers, their unions, and state budget deficits.

The researchers find that:

o The share of state and local government jobs has remained relatively steady, whether measured per thousand residents or as a percentage of all jobs.

o States with the lowest union density averaged 74.6 state and local employees per thousand residents in 2009, while the highest union density states averaged 68.3. This study shows that the number of state and local employees per thousand actually fell in the high union density states between 2001 and 2009 (Chart 2).

o There is no correlation between union density and the size of state budget deficits.

o State budget deficits were due, in large part, to the decline in house prices and ensuing recession.

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