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Arkansas Government Employment Is Still Expanding

(May 2006) Nine years ago then state Sen. Jodie Mahoney, D-EI Dorado, challenged a finding by the Murphy Commission, a Policy Foundation project, that found total Arkansas government employment had expanded in recent decades. In a statement shortly before Christmas 1997, Mahoney challenged the Policy Foundation's use of part- and full-time government employees to calculate total Arkansas government employment. (Associated Press, Saturday Dec. 20, 1997, El Dorado News-Times).

The Policy Foundation, relying on monthly Arkansas Employment Security Department (AESD) employment reports, noted in December 1997 that state government employed more than 60,000 Arkansans in full- and part-time positions. Mahoney, relying on data compiled by the Bureau of Legislative Research, argued only 45,727 of those were full-time employees in November 1997.

Yet non-seasonally adjusted employment data reveals the upward trend identified by the Policy Foundation in 1997 has continued. Federal employment has declined while Arkansas state and local government employment, including K-12 public education, has continued to expand:

December 1997

Federal Government 21,200
State Government 63,000
Local Government 104,000
State & Local Government 167,000
Total Government 188,200

March 2006

Federal Government 20,500
State Government 71,500
Local Government 119,500
State & Local Government 191,000
Total Government 211,500