- The coronavirus pandemic has caused turmoil for education workers.
- In addition to teachers, school staff, such as bus drivers, faced layoffs and furloughs amid closures.
- A new analysis by The Pew Charitable Trusts looked at figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to determine how employment in education has changed from a year ago across the US.
- Most states saw a decline between September 2019 and September 2020, but two states saw gains in local education employment and five saw gains in state education employment.
- Overall in the US, September employment in state education is 10.6% lower than last year, and local education is down 6.9%.
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The coronavirus pandemic has been hard for teachers and other school staff, from closures last spring to educators adapting to remote learning. Employment in education services has also been greatly affected across the US, according to a new analysis from The Pew Charitable Trusts.
Pew recently analyzed available state employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data is available for both state education and local education employment up to September 2020. Overall, employment in state and local education fell 8.8% — or a decline of 966,600 jobs — between October 2019 and October 2020. The nonprofit notes that this represents "the lowest national jobs total at that point in the school year since 2000."
Education jobs don't just include teachers but jobs like bus drivers and food services who were affected by school closures, leading to some layoffs and furloughs.
Using the nonprofit's calculations, the following highlights the change in employment from September 2019 to September 2020 for local education jobs. 46 states saw a decline, while just two states had higher employment in local education than the previous year:
Pew notes in the analysis that temporary job cuts largely contributed to these local employment declines and the different handling of schools during the pandemic contributed to some states seeing larger drops. For instance, Nevada saw the largest percent decline since last year at 19.1%, or a loss of 10,900 jobs. Between February and September 2020, this state saw a loss of 12,400 jobs, or a percent decline of 21.2%.
The following highlights the change in state education employment from September 2019 to September 2020 for state education jobs. 44 states saw a decline, while just five states had higher employment in education at the state government level than the previous year:
Five states have seen gains in employment from last September: Iowa, Montana, New Mexico, New York, and Oregon. New Hampshire, however, saw the biggest drop in state education employment over the last year at -28.6%, or a loss of 3,200 jobs. Between February and September 2020, this state saw a loss of 5,100 jobs, or a percent decline of 38.9%.
Even before the pandemic, schools were facing shortages in both teachers and substitutes in some states. The pandemic has made it even harder to fill substitute vacancies in places like Indiana and Colorado. Additionally, one analysis out of the Economic Policy Institute found the US hasn't been employing enough people in schools to keep up with enrollment since after the Great Recession.
"As of September 2019, the start of the most recent pre-pandemic school year, local public education jobs were still 60,000 short of their September 2008 level, and they were over 300,000 lower than they would have needed to be to keep up with public school enrollment," Elise Gould, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute wrote in the blog post.
Schools may need more funding to help with budget cuts and shortfalls as the pandemic continues. According to NPR, K-12 schools will need at least $200 billion.
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