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As we enter the new fiscal year (beginning on July 1st), it’s clear that the failing job market will receive no help from governments at the state and local levels. Greg Daco, an economist at IHS Global Insight put it bluntly: “We’re on a downward path. It’s not looking good.” While the private sector had added a significant amount of jobs, the public sector has done just the opposite, losing approximately 23,000 jobs a month for the past three months. Since April of 2008, over 500,000 public sector jobs have been lost.
Sadly, this seems to only be the beginning, as state governments are planning on cutting spending across the board, particularly spending that goes toward education, social services, and local governments. Federal stimulus money did its part for a while, but now state and local governments will be forced to make some difficult and unpopular decisions. Those working in education will likely be hit the hardest, as many layoffs are imminent. According to economists, it will take at least a year for these governments to recover, as it is usually the norm for state and local governments to take longer to recover (i.e., as opposed to government at the federal level).
However, amongst the various twists and turns along this downward path the economy has taken, it is important to remember the tragedy that these cuts represent. Educators, many of whom are likely very, very good at what they do, have been and will be laid off in the coming months. The real tragedy is the fact that kids everywhere will receive a lesser education due to factors beyond their control, beyond the control of their parents, and even beyond the control of the local governments around them. The need to cut education funding is perhaps the most emotionally resonant and significant aspect of this economic downturn; that is, in a time of outsourcing, a gradual falling behind in subjects such as math and science vis-a-vis nations like China and India, and an increase of American independence on products made overseas, one would think that education would be the last thing to be cut. Nobody in their right mind would ever willingly cut education, for both practical and emotional reasons. How can we deny–or severely limit–the youth of America an education that will provide them intellectual fulfillment and practical incentives (e.g., job opportunities) for the future? The fact that such cuts are an inevitability is an ominous sign of how bad things might become and how bad they’ve been to get us to this point.
Contains information from CNN.