Here’s how big K-12 job losses have been during COVID

Public education employment falls to the lowest rate it has reached at this point in the school year in two decades
By: | November 10, 2020
Bus drivers and other K-12 support staff have been hit hardest by job cuts in K-12 education during COVID. (GettyImage/FatCamera)Bus drivers and other K-12 support staff have been hit hardest by job cuts in K-12 education during COVID. (GettyImage/FatCamera)

Education workers have been among the hardest hit by COVID job losses, with declines seen in almost every state, according to data released Tuesday.

In seven states, local education employment has dropped more than 10% over the past year, according to an analysis by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Most of the reductions have been in support staff rather than in teachers or administrators. And job losses vary widely by state, due to local impacts of the recession and whether districts have reopened in-person or remote.

Public education employment in October fell to the lowest rate it has reached at this point in the school year in two decades, and the losses could act as a drag on broader economic growth, the report finds.


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Only North Dakota and Utah recorded slight gains in education employment, says the report, which offers state-by-by state data.

Public school employment has fallen nearly 7% over the past year, with Nevada (-19%), West Virginia (-14%), and Florida (-13%) showing the largest declines.

Many of the layoffs and furloughs so far have hit bus drivers, custodial staff, cafeteria workers, and other support personnel, rather than teachers, the report says.

“In 2021, school districts and colleges will continue to confront multiple headwinds,” the Pew report says. “Most states are projecting significant revenue shortfalls that will threaten aid to education.”

In the last recession, the report notes, the deepest cuts to public employment didn’t occur until well into the recovery and the same trend may occur during COVID. That’s because local property taxes, a major revenue stream for most school districts, have not yet fallen.


DA’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on K-12.