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Axios Apr 23
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Public servants struggle in modern America

Driver Priscille Hetzel inspects her bus before starting her route. Photo: Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

"For generations of Americans, working for a state or local government — as a teacher, firefighter, bus driver or nurse — provided a comfortable nook in the middle class," the N.Y. Times' Patricia Cohen and Robert Gebeloff write. But "[i]n recent years, ... the ranks of state and local employees have languished even as the populations they serve have grown. They now account for the smallest share of the American civilian work force since 1967."

Why it matters: "No less than automobile assembly lines and steel plants, the public sector ensured that even workers without a college education could afford a home, a minivan, movie nights and a family vacation."