Senior Director of State Fiscal Research
The jobs plan President Obama announced last night includes a promising proposal to help get the economy moving and build a stronger future: support for schools to retain and hire teachers and other employees.
Most states have cut elementary and high school funding to help close large budget gaps since the recession started, and widespread cuts are continuing this fiscal year, as our recent analysis detailed. A few states have cut support by more than 20 percent per pupil since before the recession, in inflation-adjusted terms.
Over the last three years, localities across the nation have eliminated 293,000 jobs — most of them in the past year (see graph). A large number of private-sector jobs have likely disappeared as well, as school districts cancel or scale back purchases of items such as textbooks.
These job losses are slowing the economy as a whole, since people without jobs buy less, and the ripple effect threatens other jobs as well.
Without the emergency federal aid the President proposes, even more jobs would disappear in the coming year, as state education funding cuts continue.
Saving those jobs and allowing schools to hire back some laid-off teachers and other workers makes sense on two levels. It would help the economy get moving now: Moody’s Analytics estimates that the aid to states would add 135,000 public- and private-sector jobs in 2012. And it would help build a stronger future: if this nation is going to continue competing successfully in the global economy, we can’t afford to have our teachers standing in the unemployment line.