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Teachers Not Going Back to School

50,000 Public Education Jobs Cut in September

By Masao Suzuki |
October 14, 2010
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San José, CA - On Oct. 8, the Department of Labor reported that local public schools had cut 49,800 jobs in September. Included in the layoffs this fall was kindergarten teacher Amanda VanNess, who stood with President Obama when he signed a bill giving $26 billion to local schools in August of 2009. While this federal stimulus money did save Ms. VanNess’ job in the Toledo (Ohio) Public School District in 2009, she was laid off this fall as the district’s drop in students led to another round of cuts.

In addition to the job losses at local public schools, state and local governments cut another 33,000 jobs in September. The federal government cut another 76,000 jobs, almost all U.S. census workers, for a total loss of 159,000 government jobs last month. These government job cuts overwhelmed the 64,000 net new hires at private businesses, for a total loss of 95,000 jobs. This is the fourth month in a row that the economy has lost jobs.

With the recession declared officially over as of June 2009 by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) Business Cycles Dating Committee, the economy is now in another jobless recovery. Over the last 15 months ,between the end of the recession and last month, the economy has lost more than 400,000 jobs, on top of the 7.35 million jobs lost during the recession. This pattern is now typical of the business cycle, with the last three recessions (1990-91, 2001, and 2007-2009) all having ‘jobless recoveries.’ In contrast, following the 1981-82 recession, more than 4 million jobs were created in the first 15 months following the end of the recession.

Job losses at state and local governments are likely to continue. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that state and local governments could shed almost a million more jobs over the next two years as they face hundreds of billions of dollars of budget deficits. On top of this, federal aid to state and local governments under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, which was an $800 billion, two-year economic stimulus program, will start to run out at the end of this year.

California is an example of how state and local budget deficits are leading to big spending cuts and job losses. With California facing a $19 billion budget deficit, California legislators voted to balance the budget with a combination of spending cuts, optimistic assumptions and creative accounting. Education spending was cut by $3.3 billion. Another $1.9 billion that schools were owed was postponed until next year. Another $4 billion will be cut from health care, state workers pay and pensions and other state programs. In contrast, only $1.3 billion of revenues will come from postponing a corporate tax cut. $7.9 billion of revenue is assumed from federal aid, improving tax revenues as the economy recovers and sales of state buildings.

While the official unemployment rate stayed the same between August and September, this was only because the number of part-time workers who want to work full time rose by 612,000 in September, while the number of full-time workers actually fell. The broadest measure of unemployment, that includes these part-time workers who want full-time work as well as those who have given up looking for work and thus are not counted in the official unemployment rate, rose 17.1% in September from 16.7% in August.

While corporate profits and the stock market have been on a tear, working people are facing more job cuts and more temporary and part-time jobs replacing what used to be full-time work. The facts are clear: despite the official end to the recession, there is no recovery for working people.

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