The New York Times weighed in with a story yesterday that repeats a theme we've heard semi-regularly since government-worker layoffs started in earnest two years ago, namely that the downsizing of state and local government is having a disproportionate impact on the economic fortunes of blacks because they are overly represented in government jobs. The Times even quotes someone saying that the impact is so great we should pause and consider it before further layoffs.
Yet the Times' story, repeating a theme that even some fiscal conservatives have echoed, is short on facts and ignores the actual government data on public sector employment, which shows something quite different. In fact, it is whites who are more significantly overrepresented in government relative to their position in the broader population, and it is whites who have absorbed the brunt of government layoffs. To understand how the numbers work and what the Times and others ignore, read on.