[Excerpt] The issues described in this volume's chapters remained in flux as this book was being completed. The U.S. economy was in a recovery phase, albeit a recovery at a rather lackluster pace. Because of the lags in adjustment in state and local governments, the public sector was coping with prior circumstances even as the private sector resumed an economic expansion. At the international level, some European elections in the aftermath of the Great Recession have suggested that there is public frustration with austerity policies.
The Great Recession occurred in an era of political polarization, which the sharp downturn exacerbated. As a result, resolving the issues related to public sector employment was complicated by an infusion of ideology. Working out the problems that remain unresolved is likely to be marked by continued partisan struggles in state and local affairs, and in similar conflicts around the world.