Record Drop in Education Jobs

Today’s employment report shows that the recession has finally hit education. With the new school year starting, September education jobs fell by 0.9%, or 121K jobs, compared to September 2008. This is a record drop, based on data going all the way back to the 1950s.

The chart tells the story.

By education employment, I mean local, state, and private sector education employment, including elementary, high-school, higher education, and technical schools (child day care services are not included).

Since 1959, when the data starts, there have been three previous Septembers where there were fewer education jobs than the previous year—1978, 1981, 1982. These three came during the period of fastest decline in K-12 enrollment, as school age populations shrunk after the baby boom.

So we are now in the first school year on record where education jobs are falling, while enrollments are rising. The decline is across the board.

This is not a good thing. I had hoped that education would serve as a countercyclical force, with governments investing in human capital both for the short-term stimulus and for the long-term investment. But the squeeze on local and state government budgets has turned out to be too much.

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