BEYOND THE NUMBERS
Today’s jobs report shows that schools are starting — finally — to recover from the effects of the recession. But the news isn’t so good for other state and local workers.
While school districts cut 2,900 jobs in October, today’s report also included revised figures for previous months showing that schools have added nearly 77,000 jobs since the end of the last school year in June. That amounts to restoring a quarter of the jobs that school districts had cut since the 2008-09 school year began in August 2008 (see graph).
When school districts hire back teachers and other education workers, that helps not only students but also state economies, since those workers will have more money to spend at local stores.
Public universities and other state-level education employers are also hiring. They’ve added 46,000 jobs since June, improving the chances that today’s college students will get the needed instruction that prepares them to enter the workforce and excel.
In contrast, the number of state and local jobs outside education — police and firefighters, child abuse caseworkers, public health employees, courtroom employees, and so on — has dropped by 31,400 since July 1, when this state fiscal year began in most states. That’s on top of the 401,000 jobs lost over the previous four fiscal years.
The jobs report figures are periodically revised as additional data become available, so today’s numbers will likely change somewhat. But while schools still have a ways to go to recover from the recession, they appear to have turned a corner. More layoffs for other public employees, on the other hand, continue to slow the recovery.
Senior Vice President for State Fiscal Policy and Co-Leader of the State Fiscal Policy Division