Senate’s Failure to Act on Federal Aid to State and Local Governments Jeopardizes Veterans’ Jobs

by July 29, 2020

Recently, the Republican-controlled Senate and White House rolled out the HEALS Act, which not only guts Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits for millions of unemployed workers, but also completely overlooks critical federal aid to state and local governments. This intentional oversight threatens vital public services just when they are needed most and could result in an additional 5.3 million public and private sector service workers losing their jobs by the end of 2021. More than one million veterans—13.2% of all veterans—work for state and local governments and could be severely impacted by the Senate’s failure to provide timely federal aid. Because state and local governments are extremely restricted in how they can borrow, congressional authorization for state and local fiscal support is vital to prevent deep cuts in health care and education.

Black workers, who are heavily represented in the overall public sector workforce, are even more heavily represented in the share of state and local government workers who are veterans. While Black workers make up 12% of the private sector and 14% of the public sector workforces, they make up 17% of public sector workers who are also veterans.

The map in Figure A provides a state-by-state overview of the number of veterans serving in state and local governments around the country, both by total numbers and by share of the public sector workforce. Table 1 provides the list of the top 10 states with the highest numbers of veterans employed by state and local governments. Table 2 provides the list of the top 10 states with the highest share of veterans employed by the public sector. California has the largest number of veterans working in the public sector, while Montana has the largest share of veterans working for state and local governments.

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