State and local governments laid off nearly 58,000 teachers and other education workers in September, the government announced on Friday. The layoffs happened even though some have said the $26 billion bill passed by Congress in August was nothing but a sop for teacher unions.
Progressive economists said Friday that the layoffs would have been much worse without the aid, $10 billion of which was expressly allotted to prevent teacher layoffs.
"Back in the spring when they made their budgets, states assumed they were getting the aid in a lot of instances," said Ed Muir, a researcher with the American Federation of Teachers. "If you unpack the state budgets, more than half of that money was already assumed layered into state budgets. So that money saves jobs but you don't see it."
"States were already expecting that money," said Nick Johnson, an analyist with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "Had they not expected it or had they expected it and not gotten it, the cuts undoubtedly would have been much deeper."
Some school districts faced less of a fiscal crunch than others, and some school districts hesitated to spend the money to rehire laid off teachers, as the New York Times reported.
"What the payroll numbers show is unambiguous: teachers were cut. A lot of them," said Heidi Shierholz, an economist with the progressive Economic Policy Institute. "States should have gotten more fiscal relief to keep this from happening. The job loss was 58,000 jobs in state and local education in September. These are teachers and other education workers who would have been expected to come back after the summer -- or start new jobs -- with the new school year."