Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Georgia Workers Increase Education Boosts Government Rolls

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Georgia Workers Increase Education Boosts Government Rolls

Article excerpt

Byline: Doug Gross, Times-Union staff writer

In politics, nearly everyone likes to talk about shrinking government payrolls and eliminating unneeded bureaucrats.

But last year, the number of state and local government workers actually increased, both in Georgia and throughout the United States.

Nationwide, the number of state and local workers jumped to more than 15 million last year, a 2.2 percent increase over 1999, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures released Wednesday.

In Georgia, the jump was smaller -- about a 1 percent increase from 448,900 workers to 453,736. But gains in some areas, particularly education, were offset by about 9,000 public-hospital jobs disappearing as facilities shut down throughout the state.

University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock said growing local and state payrolls can be attributed, in part, to a change in federal policy.

"Part of it is a reallocation of responsibilities, with the federal government cutting back on some of the things it has done," Bullock said. "But if it's a responsibility, somebody's got to do it."

Perhaps as a result of that trend, combined with efforts at streamlining, the number of non-military federal government employees did shrink between 1995 and 1997 and again in 1998.

But for the past two years, those numbers also have been on the rise -- from about 2.7 million in 1998 to 2.9 million last year.

The biggest increase in state and local government jobs -- both nationally and in Georgia -- came in public education. In Georgia, 6,566 new education jobs were created among the state's 1,900 public schools.

Of those, 4,590 were teaching jobs, and 1,976 were other school system duties, from administrators to janitors.

The explanation, officials say, is relatively simple.

"My guess is it's all related to growth," said Herb Garrett, director of the Georgia School Superintendents Association. …

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