One of the readers (screen name "John A") had an interesting hypothesis to explain the spike in government employees at the state and local levels (see discussion). The chart below shows the number of births in the US over time. About six years ago there was a small spike in births, causing a temporary increase in the number of children who are now entering kindergarten in the public school system. That created demand for teachers this year (and possibly next year) - above the usual seasonal increase in Q3. Of course this is a temporary adjustment in employment, as birth rates began to decline fairly sharply after that (see ABC News story). It means that going forward public jobs will likely detract from non-farm payrolls growth.