The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the economy added 156,000 new jobs in September—enough to absorb new entrants into the labor market and move us slowly closer to full employment. The unemployment rate ticked up slightly, but for the right reasons—the result of more workers entering the labor force, which may reflect optimism about future job prospects and economic growth.
While the economy continues to make progress, it’s important to emphasize how the recovery has been hampered by austerity at all levels of government. One notable example is the gap between public school employment and what’s needed to keep up with growth in the student population—the “teacher gap.” As the school year began in earnest in September, there were still 214,000 fewer teachers than there were before the Great Recession, which, coupled with growth in public school enrollment, brings the teacher gap to 372,000. The costs of a significant teacher gap are measurable: larger class sizes, fewer teacher aides, fewer extracurricular activities, and less money being spent in local communities. Not only is it important that monetary policy makers keep their foot off the brake, but policymakers should reverse the austerity that’s been holding back the recovery.