Dive Brief:

  • A monthly employment report released by the U.S. Department of Labor shows “notable job gains” for the education sector in June, but the numbers indicate public education employment changed little throughout the month.
  • An increase of 70,000 local public education jobs was partially offset by 25,000 job losses in state government education, making the overall number of public education jobs gained around 45,000.
  • Meanwhile, employment in private education increased by 93,000 in the same time period. 

Dive Insight:

The losses, according to the report, could be in part due to the seasonal changes in education, which sees cyclical dips of about 20% in employment over the summer months. 

However, unemployment in public education is still significantly higher compared to this time last year. State education unemployment is up by almost 10% compared to June 2019, and local education unemployment is 7.5% more than this time last year, according to seasonally adjusted data. 

Still, education job losses in June slowed significantly since May, which saw steep declines in both local and state public education employment. Employment in private education increased during both months. 

The U.S. Department of Education cited the closure of “nearly 100” private schools during the release of its final rule on Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funds in June, which requires districts to set aside a share for local private schools that varies based on how<?> the money is used in public schools.  

But trends since April show employment in private education has steadily increased while employment in public education overall has declined. 

Nearly 759,000 public school employees across the country have already lost their jobs since March 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those were mostly due to furloughs or temporary layoffs, according to the nonprofit Pew Charitable Trusts, which said districts made significant cuts to noninstructional hourly staff, such as bus drivers and maintenance workers.

Those could turn permanent in the face of budget cuts, which many are bracing for in the wake of tax revenue shortfalls. 

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, early state projections suggest revenue shortfalls for the new fiscal year, which began July 1 for most states, could be equal to or more than the worst year of the Great Recession. The progressive think tank has predicted $615 billion in state budget shortfalls between fiscal years 2020 and 2022.

If the economic downturn goes unchecked, education could be slated to lose 1.89 million education jobs over the next three years, according to estimates by the National Education Association.

Federal legislation that passed the House of Representatives last week would invest $130 billion in school infrastructure as districts seek to reopen schools for the fall; it is awaiting a vote in the Senate. However, since the passage of CARES, no legislation providing significant education funding has made it to the president’s desk.

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