Economic Snapshot | Education

Back-to-school jobs report shows a continued shortfall in public education jobs

The latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) gives us data to examine the “teacher employment gap”—the gap between local public education employment and what is needed to keep up with growth in the student population. State and local government austerity since the recession has contributed to a significant shortfall in education employment. There are still 60,000 fewer public education jobs than there were before the recession began in 2007. If we include the number of jobs that should have been created just to keep up with growing student enrollment, we are currently experiencing a 307,000 job shortfall in public education.

The Teacher Gap

Teacher employment and the number of jobs needed to keep up with enrollment, 2003–2019

Local public education employment  Jobs needed to keep up with student enrollment
2003-01-01 7.6974
2003-02-01 7.6974
2003-03-01 7.6912
2003-04-01 7.6985
2003-05-01 7.6950
2003-06-01 7.7315
2003-07-01 7.7791
2003-08-01 7.7252
2003-09-01 7.6675
2003-10-01 7.7165
2003-11-01 7.7025
2003-12-01 7.7031
2004-01-01 7.7120
2004-02-01 7.7199
2004-03-01 7.7483
2004-04-01 7.7538
2004-05-01 7.7767
2004-06-01 7.7607
2004-07-01 7.7575
2004-08-01 7.7669
2004-09-01 7.7743
2004-10-01 7.7828
2004-11-01 7.7975
2004-12-01 7.8032
2005-01-01 7.8219
2005-02-01 7.8311
2005-03-01 7.8209
2005-04-01 7.8294
2005-05-01 7.8402
2005-06-01 7.8188
2005-07-01 7.9047
2005-08-01 7.9073
2005-09-01 7.8787
2005-10-01 7.8646
2005-11-01 7.8756
2005-12-01 7.8830
2006-01-01 7.8822
2006-02-01 7.8869
2006-03-01 7.8906
2006-04-01 7.8961
2006-05-01 7.8839
2006-06-01 7.8678
2006-07-01 7.8999
2006-08-01 7.9352
2006-09-01 7.9726
2006-10-01 7.9502
2006-11-01 7.9545
2006-12-01 7.9568
2007-01-01 7.9598
2007-02-01 7.9533
2007-03-01 7.9563
2007-04-01 7.9654
2007-05-01 7.9743
2007-06-01 7.9646
2007-07-01 7.9457
2007-08-01 7.9918
2007-09-01 8.0086
2007-10-01 8.0230
2007-11-01 8.0344
2007-12-01 8.0547
2008-01-01 8.0535
2008-02-01 8.0647
2008-03-01 8.0679
2008-04-01 8.0620
2008-05-01 8.0781
2008-06-01 8.0862
2008-07-01 8.1194
2008-08-01 8.0919
2008-09-01 8.0853 8.0853 8.0853
2008-10-01 8.0898 8.0871 8.0853
2008-11-01 8.0828 8.0890 8.0853
2008-12-01 8.0836 8.0908 8.0853
2009-01-01 8.0840 8.0927 8.0853
2009-02-01 8.0967 8.0945 8.0853
2009-03-01 8.0937 8.0964 8.0853
2009-04-01 8.0916 8.0982 8.0853
2009-05-01 8.0882 8.1000 8.0853
2009-06-01 8.1084 8.1019 8.0853
2009-07-01 8.0667 8.1037 8.0853
2009-08-01 8.0619 8.1056 8.0853
2009-09-01 8.0123 8.1074 8.0853
2009-10-01 8.0737 8.1093 8.0853
2009-11-01 8.0991 8.1111 8.0853
2009-12-01 8.0716 8.1130 8.0853
2010-01-01 8.0685 8.1148 8.0853
2010-02-01 8.0570 8.1167 8.0853
2010-03-01 8.0580 8.1185 8.0853
2010-04-01 8.0563 8.1204 8.0853
2010-05-01 8.0624 8.1222 8.0853
2010-06-01 8.0486 8.1241 8.0853
2010-07-01 8.0263 8.1259 8.0853
2010-08-01 7.9971 8.1278 8.0853
2010-09-01 7.9192 8.1296 8.0853
2010-10-01 7.9637 8.1315 8.0853
2010-11-01 7.9615 8.1333 8.0853
2010-12-01 7.9535 8.1352 8.0853
2011-01-01 7.9436 8.1370 8.0853
2011-02-01 7.9296 8.1389 8.0853
2011-03-01 7.9249 8.1407 8.0853
2011-04-01 7.9367 8.1426 8.0853
2011-05-01 7.8987 8.1445 8.0853
2011-06-01 7.9605 8.1463 8.0853
2011-07-01 7.8620 8.1482 8.0853
2011-08-01 7.8212 8.1500 8.0853
2011-09-01 7.7980 8.1519 8.0853
2011-10-01 7.8279 8.1537 8.0853
2011-11-01 7.8147 8.1556 8.0853
2011-12-01 7.8042 8.1575 8.0853
2012-01-01 7.7974 8.1593 8.0853
2012-02-01 7.7998 8.1612 8.0853
2012-03-01 7.7945 8.1630 8.0853
2012-04-01 7.7857 8.1649 8.0853
2012-05-01 7.7740 8.1668 8.0853
2012-06-01 7.7782 8.1686 8.0853
2012-07-01 7.7718 8.1705 8.0853
2012-08-01 7.7708 8.1723 8.0853
2012-09-01 7.7688 8.1742 8.0853
2012-10-01 7.7593 8.1761 8.0853
2012-11-01 7.7553 8.1779 8.0853
2012-12-01 7.7712 8.1798 8.0853
2013-01-01 7.7698 8.1817 8.0853
2013-02-01 7.7703 8.1835 8.0853
2013-03-01 7.7746 8.1854 8.0853
2013-04-01 7.7690 8.1872 8.0853
2013-05-01 7.7812 8.1891 8.0853
2013-06-01 7.7578 8.1910 8.0853
2013-07-01 7.7654 8.1928 8.0853
2013-08-01 7.7744 8.1947 8.0853
2013-09-01 7.7732 8.1966 8.0853
2013-10-01 7.7761 8.1984 8.0853
2013-11-01 7.7786 8.2003 8.0853
2013-12-01 7.7607 8.2022 8.0853
2014-01-01 7.7624 8.2040 8.0853
2014-02-01 7.7677 8.2059 8.0853
2014-03-01 7.7780 8.2078 8.0853
2014-04-01 7.7988 8.2097 8.0853
2014-05-01 7.7672 8.2115 8.0853
2014-06-01 7.8159 8.2134 8.0853
2014-07-01 7.8476 8.2153 8.0853
2014-08-01 7.8122 8.2171 8.0853
2014-09-01 7.8376 8.2190 8.0853
2014-10-01 7.8450 8.2209 8.0853
2014-11-01 7.8447 8.2228 8.0853
2014-12-01 7.8490 8.2246 8.0853
2015-01-01 7.8532 8.2265 8.0853
2015-02-01 7.8640 8.2284 8.0853
2015-03-01 7.8527 8.2303 8.0853
2015-04-01 7.8650 8.2321 8.0853
2015-05-01 7.8685 8.2340 8.0853
2015-06-01 7.8664 8.2359 8.0853
2015-07-01 7.8927 8.2378 8.0853
2015-08-01 7.8943 8.2396 8.0853
2015-09-01 7.8509 8.2415 8.0853
2015-10-01 7.8678 8.2434 8.0853
2015-11-01 7.8732 8.2453 8.0853
2015-12-01 7.8763 8.2471 8.0853
2016-01-01 7.8847 8.2490 8.0853
2016-02-01 7.8897 8.2509 8.0853
2016-03-01 7.9055 8.2528 8.0853
2016-04-01 7.9070 8.2547 8.0853
2016-05-01 7.9110 8.2565 8.0853
2016-06-01 7.8916 8.2584 8.0853
2016-07-01 7.9697 8.2603 8.0853
2016-08-01 7.9332 8.2622 8.0853
2016-09-01 7.9174 8.2641 8.0853
2016-10-01 7.9139 8.2660 8.0853
2016-11-01 7.9000 8.2678 8.0853
2016-12-01 7.9103 8.2697 8.0853
2017-01-01 7.9181 8.2716 8.0853
2017-02-01 7.9097 8.2735 8.0853
2017-03-01 7.9181 8.2754 8.0853
2017-04-01 7.9179 8.2773 8.0853
2017-05-01 7.9188 8.2792 8.0853
2017-06-01 7.9202 8.2810 8.0853
2017-07-01 7.9183 8.2829 8.0853
2017-08-01 7.9260 8.2848 8.0853
2017-09-01 7.9304 8.2867 8.0853
2017-10-01 7.9388 8.2886 8.0853
2017-11-01 7.9392 8.2905 8.0853
2017-12-01 7.9430 8.2924 8.0853
2018-01-01 7.9342 8.2943 8.0853
2018-02-01 7.9496 8.2961 8.0853
2018-03-01 7.9500 8.2980 8.0853
2018-04-01 7.9534 8.2999 8.0853
2018-05-01 7.9565 8.3018 8.0853
2018-06-01 7.9675 8.3037 8.0853
2018-07-01 7.9727 8.3056 8.0853
2018-08-01 7.9934 8.3075 8.0853
2018-09-01 7.9764 8.3094 8.0853
2018-10-01 7.9695 8.3113 8.0853
2018-11-01 7.9704 8.3132 8.0853
2018-12-01 7.9737 8.3151 8.0853
2019-01-01 7.9842 8.3170 8.0853
2019-02-01 7.9836 8.3189 8.0853
2019-03-01 7.9838 8.3208 8.0853
2019-04-01 7.9893 8.3226 8.0853
2019-05-01 7.9819 8.3245 8.0853
2019-06-01 7.9782 8.3264 8.0853
2019-07-01 8.0075 8.3283 8.0853
2019-08-01 8.0188 8.3302 8.0853
2019-09-01 8.0252  8.3321  8.0853 
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Source: EPI analysis of Current Employment Statistics public data series and U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics

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Teacher strikes in several states over the last few years have highlighted deteriorating teacher pay as a critical issue. My colleagues Sylvia Allegretto and Larry Mishel find that average weekly wages of public school teachers have fallen over the last two decades and the teacher wage penalty continues to grow, reaching a record 21.4% in 2018. My colleagues Emma García and Elaine Weiss have further documented shortcomings and teacher shortages and recently how much teachers have to pay out of their own pockets for school supplies for their classrooms. Low pay makes it harder to attract and retain teachers who have the qualifications associated with teacher effectiveness in the classroom.

The costs of a significant teacher employment gap are high, and consequences measurable: larger class sizes, fewer teacher aides, fewer extracurricular activities, and changes to curricula. To solve this problem, state and local governments need to fund more teaching positions and raise pay to close the teacher pay gap and attract and retain the qualified teachers our children deserve.


See related work on Teacher shortages | Education

See more work by Elise Gould