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Is Government Employment Down?

The Wall Street Journal claims federal employment, excluding postal workers, is the “lowest total in seven years” and includes the following chart.

Wall Street Journal chart

Because this is a surprising factoid, I posted it on Facebook. After receiving a comment that 1.6% is probably off by a decimal, I started to question the data. I headed off to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ web site to see if I could duplicate the WSJ’s chart.

Here is the BLS chart of federal employment excluding postal workers.

Federal employment excluding postal workers

This doesn’t match the Wall Street Journal’s chart, not even close. Yeah, there’s the huge bump for World War II, but the trends don’t match. This chart shows federal employment steadily increasing until the early ’90s instead of generally decreasing since the mid-’50s. That’s when I noticed that the Wall Street Journal plotted federal workers as a percentage of total non-farm employment, not as an absolute number.

So, what is total non-farm employment? Here is the BLS chart of non-farm employment, which shows a steady rise until the turn of the millennium.

Non-farm employment

Now, all I need is an easy way to divide the first chart by the second chart…

Getting both data series using the BLS series report tool wasn’t that hard. Nor was creating a spreadsheet that contained both and then dividing government employment by total non-farm employment. Surprise — the Wall Street Journal didn’t slip a decimal.1

Now for the chart I created:

WSJ Chart Recreated

Ha! Looks pretty close to the WSJ’s.2 Good to know. :-)

1At least, not in the chart. The WSJ article’s first paragraph reads, “21.9 million: The number of government workers in the U.S. in January, the lowest total in seven years.” That first number is off by a factor of ten. It should be 2.19 million.
2The blips every ten years in my chart are probably census employees, which the WSJ eliminated from its chart…somehow.

Cat in a Pup Tent

Hazel

Hazel enjoys being where she thinks she shouldn’t be.1

1I’m doing my part to increase the cattitude of the Internet … and it’s not even Friday. ;-)

Cell Phone Service Pricing

I think I want to start an electrical utility. After researching pricing plans, I like the following:

  • Pre-paid, flat-rate pricing, say $199.95 per month for 1,500 kWh of home electricity usage. If you exceed the monthly allotment you pay an additional $0.99 per kWh.1
  • $0.30 to recharge a AA battery. If you recharge a lot of AA batteries you can pay $9.95 per month for unlimited AA battery charging. Other sizes of batteries will have different rates.
  • $9.95 per month to connect a work laptop to your home electricity service.
  • $9.95 per month to use an extension cord to “tether” other devices to your home electricity service.

You may wonder why I would propose such a complicated pricing plan.2 Clearly, you don’t understand these charges are necessary to cover the costs of maintaining and upgrading the electricity infrastructure.

It makes total sense to me.3 After all, I just paid my cell phone bill.

1Maybe those who sign up first will get unlimited electricity per month and will be able to keep their plan as long as they don’t move. How about carryover-kWh’s? Or neighborhood plans where neighbors share kWh’s?
2You might note that it (1) has many customers bearing the cost for the few who use the most electricity, (2) doesn’t encourage conservation, (3) charges differently for different uses of the same electricity, and (4) has outrageously different pricing with no relationship to how much electricity is used.
3Most important, let’s not just charge by the kWh.

Looks like I can add garbage disposals to the ever-lengthening list of household appliances that I can take apart, fix, and put back together.

From My Inbox

hey sir.!!
im really glad to see u in ur forum nd im doin btech 2nd year frm india..!!
frm childhood im very interested in these microcontrollers play..!!!!
frm ur forum im starting dis(wireless transmission of electricity) project nd i gt all d components with me nd i wnt to make theory work as first…!!!
so please kindly send me links which r accurate standard pdf…to make it as theory…!!!
plz help me up sir…!!!

If this was the first such request, I’d ignore it. Unfortunately, this is only the latest of many requests I have received from college engineering students wanting me to help them duplicate Jamison’s 6th grade science fair project. As is typical, he is requesting information already provided.

Sad.

SMF Sunset

Across I5 from SMF

Heading to the airport after a couple of days in Folsom, I watched the sunset through the oleanders as I drove north out of Sacramento. The freeway turned west toward the airport and the Sacramento River, the light show playing dead ahead. Taking the airport exit, I turned left away from the airport, over the freeway, and pulled over to snap this shot.

Another successful detour. :-)

Another View From 4A

GIF From Plane

It’s amazing how hard this is to do and make it look good.

I also took some actual video that I will attempt to convert to animated GIF later. Maybe I’ll have better luck with it.