More from the Jobs Report: Schools In, Teachers Out

October 7th, 2011 at 3:31 pm

While employers in the private sector added jobs last month, the public sector contracted again (down 34,000; 24,000 in public education), as it has for many months running.

Focusing on the public education part of this, my CBPP colleague Michael Leachman notes here:

In the last three years, schools have cut 278,000 jobs, with over 40 percent of the job cuts occurring in the last year.

Here are two relevant pictures.  The first shows the loss of jobs in local public education and the second shows public school enrollment, including projections based on population demogrpahics.  As you no doubt will observe, demand (enrollment) is going up while the number of educators is declining.

Source: BLS

Source: National Center of Education Statistics, Table 68 \2\: projected.

That means higher student/teacher ratios and a harder time meeting students’ needs. 

We can do something about this.  The President’s Jobs Act devotes $35 billion to preventing teacher (and other public sector workers’) layoffs.  The White House estimates the plan will prevent up to 280,000 teacher layoffs.  (And while we’re talking about schools and jobs, let’s not forget FAST!, a version of which is also in the jobs bill…)

Or we can just jawbone and grandstand the importance of education while these two trends crash into each other.

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7 comments in reply to "More from the Jobs Report: Schools In, Teachers Out"

  1. Dave says:

    Jared – with all due respect, the scales on these charts are wildly disproportionate if you intend to shed light on the subject. Since 2006 enrollment is up less than 1% and education employment is down less than 1%. We’d all like to see great student/teacher ratios but these figures don’t show much change. Plot them with a zero minimum scale and you couldn’t even see it.


    • Jared Bernstein says:

      Fair point–one could definitely made both these trends look flatter with a bigger range on the y-axes. But while enrollment is only up about a percent, the decline in education employment is 3% from its most recent peak in Apr09, with about 300K more education cuts expected. That would mean a 7% loss in teachers. So very likely that the student/teacher ratio will rise, and probably is rising as we speak.


  2. David says:

    Using the figures on your graphs, I calculate about a 4% increase in class size, comparing 2008 (peak employment) to 2011. And that assumes all of the job losses were teachers, not administrators, maintenance workers, etc.

    I am also a fan of small class size, and I believe in my heart that we under-invest in education, especially in poor neighborhoods. The job losses are tragic for the employees. I am not sure that presenting the data in this way is really helpful.


    • Jared Bernstein says:

      See if this does a better job of convincing you re teachers losses and enrollment increases: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/08/opinion/more-bleak-job-numbers.html?_r=1&ref=opinion


      • Dave says:

        The Times article conflates education employment with teacher employment just as David mentioned in his comment. I have enough familiarity with education to know that we could be cutting administrators rather than teachers for almost all these job losses, but it’s not clear from this report who is actually getting a pink slip.

        The Washington Monthly has a valuable piece on higher education’s ballooning administrator class. http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/septemberoctober_2011/features/administrators_ate_my_tuition031641.php

        I don’t think the K-12 establishment is quite as bad, but I’m confident we can keep our class sizes appropriately sized by getting rid of some vice-vice-assistant-principals at the campus level and a bunch of district administrators who have no impact on our children’s education.

        I’d rather not be laying anyone off, but the housing bubble inflated local property tax revenues as well as housing prices. We have to get back to long run trends and that includes an adjustment back to a property tax base that doesn’t include a bubble-based income stream. Homeowners get foreclosed on and have their credit ruined by short sales. Local governments get to lay off workers until they have budgets in balance for the long run. It’s painful for all of us, but I don’t see any magic wand on the horizon.


  3. Jools says:

    278’000 jobs?? ok, have to admit – tx God me and my family live in the UK

    .. should explain everything


  4. Jeff says:

    I went to college in the late 60s and then again in the late 70s. I wouldn’t have considered being a teacher as it wasn’t my calling plus I’ve always thought teachers were under paid. We Americans don’t appreciate teachers enough to pay them what they are worth. We are too ignorant to realize we are.


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