10/12/2011

Public Schools Hardest Hit in September Jobs Report

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The latest national snapshot on employment illustrates the beating that today's economy is exacting on teachers and school employees—and points toward the need for quick congressional approval of job-generating legislation that the White House has sent to Capitol Hill.

On Oct. 7, the U.S. Labor Department reported that unemployment remained stuck at 9.1 percent in September, and state and local education employment was a big reason why. Public schools lost 24,400 jobs in September, the biggest losses in any employment category. "State and local governments shed 90,000 jobs in the most recent quarter, the third largest loss on record. The sector has downsized for 27 of out of the past 33 months," CNN reports, citing an IHS Global Insight Report.

September 2011 marks the third anniversary of job losses in education, and cuts have steepened in each year. Warning of a growing "teacher gap," the Economic Policy Institute estimates that school employment should have grown by 48,000 over that span in order to keep up with student enrollment.

In September, President Obama sent Congress the American Jobs Act, which includes $30 billion to prevent 280,000 teacher layoffs and to allow districts to hire and rehire additional teachers and frontline staff. Although an initial attempt to bring up the comprehensive plan failed in an Oct. 11 Senate vote, the White House and congressional allies have vowed to keep this vital jobs-saving plan alive and on the Capitol Hill front burner.

Tonight's vote is by no means the end of this fight," Obama said after the Oct. 11 Senate vote. "In the coming days, members of Congress will have to take a stand on whether they believe we should put teachers, construction workers, police officers and firefighters back on the job. … Ultimately, the American people won't take 'no' for an answer. It's time for Congress to meet their responsibility, put their party politics aside and take action on jobs right now." [Mike Rose, CNN, the White House]

October 12, 2011