The economic recession triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic has dampened economic activity and resulted in nearly 20.8 million people losing their jobs between March and April 2020 alone. As millions of workers lose income and consumption falls, leading to a loss of income tax and sales tax, the revenue base that state and local governments depend on to balance their budgets is likely to shrink dramatically. Absent federal aid, state and local governments are predicted to face a nearly $1 trillion revenue shortfall by the end of 2021.
State and local governments provide vital services that are even more necessary in the current crisis – including education, social services, and public health protections – and they employ over 17.4 million workers, six in ten of whom are women. Between February and May 2020, over 1.5 million state and local government jobs were lost, with women accounting for 63% of those losses.v In June, employment in state government fell by an additional 25,000 jobs, while local government gained 57,000 jobs.vi Accounting for June’s gains and losses, 284,000 net jobs have been lost in state government and over 1.2 million net jobs have been lost in local government since the start of the pandemic. This is a devastating blow to women, who are more likely than men to hold state and local government jobs, particularly given that these jobs have a higher median wage and are more likely to provide important benefits than private sector jobs. Without federal fiscal relief to state and local governments, job losses will continue, with harsh impacts for working people and for the important services that state and local government provide.