The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that despite a recession and shrinking state and local budgets public employees have been spared the pain that workers in other sectors have faced.

According to the Journal, the number of public employees in cash strapped New York City has risen froma  little over 240,000 in 1999 to almost 314,000 as of June 30 of this year.  Granted public employment dropped slightly in 2002 and 2003 when the economy was slowing down but jumped by 40,000 the next year as things picked up.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has touted his business experience as a major qualification for running New York City yet the rapid explosion of public employee growth during his tenure defies all business logic.  As a corporation grows it will need more employees but they will also gain economies of scale and won’t require the same ratio of employees to do the work as they did when they first started operating.

But thanks to weak-kneed politicians like Bloomberg, the public employee unions have only gained more clout and have managed to increase their numbers and thereby costs to the taxpayers with ever highre salaries and benefits.  So now when the budgets are strained to the point of breaking government leaders whine about cutting services but won’t face the true problem of a bloated payroll that breeds inefficiencies.

The current recession which many economists are predicting will be the worst economic situation that we have have since the Great Depression will test mayors and governors across the U.S. as to whether or not they have the mettle to deal with the heart of their fiscal problems or punt the ball and watch the public employee unions inflcit more damage.

For a clue on what they are likely to do just watch the parade of mayors hitting Washington, D.C. who are asking the government for a piece of the bailout pie.  No pain here.