Government jobs bring Springfield, Illinois area unemployment to four-year low

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Put some plastic on the floor before reading. Heads may explode.

The State Journal-Register reported that Springfield area unemployment is at a four-year low, and it’s mostly because GOVERNMENT DOES CREATE JOBS. According to an economist quoted in the article, “Most of the increase was in state and local government.”

Did you know that was possible? Rush Limbaugh, Mitt Romney and the rest of their crew keep telling us that “government doesn’t create jobs.” They repeat it over and over again, as if saying it enough times will make it true.

Even local congressional candidate (and lifelong government employee) Rodney Davis said the line in our fine state capital of Springfield, where state and local government agencies are the top employers, followed by the health care industry, which is heavily dependent on federal spending. The same is true for the entire 13th Congressional district, and somehow, not everyone laughs when a talk-radio Republican trots out this talking point.

Springfield used to be known for having a recession-proof economy. The ups and downs of the national economy had less impact locally because Springfield’s top employers were state government agencies that maintained a stable jobs base. That changed after self-described “Reagan Democrat” Rod Blagojevich badmouthed bureaucrats and eliminated thousands of state jobs from the area.

Cuts to the state workforce created a localized recession. The anti-government conservative ideology did to the Springfield economy what no previous recession had been able to do.

When conservative candidates use this line, they’re essentially saying that most of the people in central Illinois have jobs that don’t really count. Those icky, illegitimate government jobs don’t really matter. I don’t understand how a public employee could vote for a candidate like that and still maintain self-respect about what they do for a living.

© 2012 Willinois. This article is reproduced by permission of the author. All rights reserved.