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Education employment falls 8.8 percent: Pew

Education employment falls 8.8 percent: Pew
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Employment in state and local education positions in October dropped a dramatic 8.8 percent in the past year, according to Pew Charitable Trusts, outpacing the 6.2 percent drop in private sector employment.

"The cuts were mostly driven by temporary layoffs and positions left unfilled in the new school year," Pew researchers Barb Rosewicz and Mike Maciag wrote in their report.

The decline in education jobs shines a light on cash-strapped state and local governments. Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats debate timing and wisdom of reparations vote Biden angers Democrats by keeping Trump-era refugee cap Democratic Rep. Mondaire Jones calls on Breyer to retire MORE (D-Calif.) made funding state and local governments a central issue in failed negotiations with the White House over a fifth COVID-19 relief package.

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While Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinDemocrats justified in filibustering GOP, says Schumer Yellen provides signature for paper currency Biden's name will not appear on stimulus checks, White House says MORE had put down a $1.8 trillion offer for the package before the election, Pelosi said that funding for state and local governments did not go far enough, and cited a slew of other policy disagreements.

Since last week's election, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP acknowledges struggle to bring down Biden Pew poll: 50 percent approve of Democrats in Congress Pelosi on power in DC: 'You have to seize it' MORE (R-Ky.) has indicated that he will play a more active role in negotiations going forward in order to try and strike a deal by year's end. But McConnell has sought a much more limited package than Mnuchin and the White House.

Republicans have accused Democrats of pushing for state and local funding in order to bail out spendthrift Democratic states.

But the Pew data raises concerns about the economic implications of leaving state and local governments underfunded.

The pandemic-caused economic slowdown and health restrictions have decimated income, business and sales tax revenues that often prop up state budgets, leaving many in the red. Because states cannot run deficits, they are forced to either raise taxes or cut spending, which typically translates to reduced services or layoffs of public workers such as teachers.

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Pew found that while cuts to education jobs were prevalent across the country, the variance in state budgets led some states to cut more jobs.

"In seven states, local education employment fell more than 10% over the year as of September, based on the latest available state-level data," they wrote, pointing to Nevada at 19 percent, West Virginia at 14 percent and Florida at 13 percent.

"Meanwhile only two states, North Dakota and Utah, recorded slight gains," they added.