Since 1947, the U.S. has averaged a GDP growth rate of 3.25 percent. In more recent years, that percentage has decreased and the country is projected to average a growth rate of a mere 1 percent over the next six months. Although there is great debate over the current state of the economy, it would appear that there is no big turn-around in near sight.
With the U.S. unemployment rate hovering around 8 percent, it remains uncertain how many people will eventually find a job, and how many will simply stay unemployed. Research has shown that, unfortunately, a fair number of these citizens still face great difficulties in finding employment. More than 40 percent of those unemployed are considered to be "long-term unemployed," meaning they have been out of work for over six months. Careers everywhere are being put on hold or deprived of any chance to start at all. The major question is: where can opportunities be created? To many, it is seemingly impossible at this point to produce a significant number of job openings in the aftermath of such a strong economic crash. Yet, we are not done searching for solutions.
One area that shows great promise is private education. The U.S. private education industry is one that has grown with great consistency over the past decade and as of 2012, educational tutoring in the U.S. has been estimated to be a $7 billion per year industry. Companies are taking note of this opportunity. For example, when it was founded in 2007, Varsity Tutors had the benefit of kicking off in the midst of this growth surge. It began with just two tutors from Washington University in St. Louis and gradually grew to become a leading tutoring service with over 1,750 tutors and 70 employees nationwide. Many other educational services have modest origins and -- over time -- grew into sizable employers.
But even with the advantageous growth in this field, educators' jobs still have not been totally safe. Although teaching for public education was once seen as a stable career choice, it is rapidly shedding its ranks. Since the end of the recession in 2009, approximately 300,000 education jobs have been eliminated. As of 2011, two-thirds of all districts were planning on letting employees go and individual districts such as Detroit or New York were waiving close to 5,000 teachers each. Pennsylvania alone lost 14,000 school-related jobs that year.
Coupled with these massive layoffs is the inevitable increase in class sizes across the country. This need to accommodate the trimming of teaching staffs caused the national student-teacher ratio to grow 4.6 percent from 2008 to 2010. With classes continuing to get bigger, a lack of individualized attention for students in the learning environment has become a recurring problem. Subsequently, this has intensified the need and demand for educational services like one-on-one tutoring and digital self-guided learning products like Khan Academy.
Private education companies, particularly labor-intensive educational services, will continue to create new products and services to better meet consumer demand and subsequently create much needed jobs in America. While the drivers -- increases in class sizes and an ever more competitive college admissions landscape -- aren't the sort of trends for which one would hope, the huge job creation occurring among many private educational firms certainly is a positive employment trend worth noticing.