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Public Sector Employment Hits Low, With Higher Ed a Major Factor

June 17, 2020
 
 

Public sector employment has dropped below Great Recession levels, hitting its lowest point since 2001, according to a report released Tuesday by Pew Charitable Trusts.

Jobs in the public sector are not recovering as quickly as private sector employment, and education jobs account for nearly two-thirds of public sector job losses. Since March, public colleges and schools and other areas of state and local government have lost 1.5 million jobs, the report says. Most of the education job losses are temporary layoffs and furloughs.

“Private industries have generally incurred greater percentage losses than the public sector,” the report states. “The lifting of lockdowns across the country brings hope for the return of private sector jobs, but many governments face bleak financial outlooks that continue to leave workers vulnerable.”

The state government education workforce, which is made up mostly of public college and university employees, has decreased by more than 9 percent in the weeks following the pandemic-caused shutdowns.

“Some temporary layoffs could become permanent if the pandemic hinders tax revenue for an extended period or if state and local budget gaps aren’t plugged by additional federal aid,” the report states.

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