COVID-19

COVID-19 has caused more public school job losses than the entire Great Recession

Meghan McCarty Carino Jun 4, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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Some jobs involve school building maintenance with facilities closed, but about half were positions that deal directly with students. Michael Loccisano/Getty Images
COVID-19

COVID-19 has caused more public school job losses than the entire Great Recession

Meghan McCarty Carino Jun 4, 2020
Some jobs involve school building maintenance with facilities closed, but about half were positions that deal directly with students. Michael Loccisano/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Another 1.877 million people filed jobless claims last week, signaling that the worst may be over for COVID-19 job losses, although unemployment is still inordinately high. More than 42 million recently laid-off people have put in their applications for unemployment since the pandemic shelter-in-place orders began. A new report shows that many people working for public schools are losing their jobs.

Almost 469,000 workers in K-12 public education lost a job in just the month of April, according to the Economic Policy Institute. It’s no surprise that some jobs involve school building maintenance. But about half were positions that deal directly with students: special education teachers, tutors and teachers assistants.

“And I think it’s devastating for student learning,” report author Elise Gould said.

She says the job losses in April were more than the sector saw in the entire Great Recession. They could be long-lasting as states grapple with reduced budgets.

Bruce Fuller, a professor of education policy at the University of California, Berkeley, says further cuts to education — as we saw in the Great Recession — would probably mean larger class sizes and lower teacher salaries.

“These things add up to a decline in overall educational quality, and that sort of affects our whole society’s ability to generate more potent forms of human capital for the private sector,” Fuller said.

That, he says, could make it even harder for the economy to recover in the long run.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Are states ready to roll out COVID-19 vaccines?

Claire Hannan, executive director of the nonprofit Association of Immunization Managers, which represents state health officials, said states have been making good progress in their preparations. And we could have several vaccines pretty soon. But states still need more funding, she said. Hannan doesn’t think a lack of additional funding would hold up distribution initially, but it could cause problems down the road. “It’s really worrisome that Congress may not pass funding or that there’s information circulating saying that states don’t need additional funding,” she said.

How is the service industry dealing with the return of coronavirus restrictions?

Without another round of something like the Paycheck Protection Program, which kept a lot of businesses afloat during the pandemic’s early stages, the outlook is bleak for places like restaurants. Some in the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, only got one week of indoor dining back before cases rose and restrictions went back into effect. Restaurant owners are revamping their business models in an effort to survive while waiting to see if they’ll be able to get more aid.

How are hospitals handling the nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases?

As the pandemic surges and more medical professionals themselves are coming down with COVID, nearly 1 in 5 hospitals in the country report having a critical shortage of staff, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. One of the knock-on effects of staff shortages is that people who have other medical needs are being asked to wait.

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