Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Layoffs hitting public workers (teachers): Recovery is hurt.



Shaila Dewan and Motoko Rich. New York Times. June 20,2012.

Companies have been slowly adding workers for more than two years. But pink slips are still going out in a crucial area: government.

In California, the governor is threatening to eliminate 15,000 state jobs. When school begins in Cleveland this fall, more than 500 teachers probably will be out of work. And in Trenton — which has already cut a third of its police force, hundreds of school district employees and at least 150 other public workers — the only way the city will forestall the loss of 60 more firefighters is if a federal grant comes through.
Government payrolls grew in the early part of the recovery, largely because of federal stimulus measures. But since its postrecession peak in April 2009 (not counting temporary Census hiring), the public sector has shrunk by 706,000 jobs. The losses appeared to be tapering off earlier this year, but have accelerated for the last three months, creating the single biggest drag on the recovery in many areas.
So while the federal government has grown a little since the recession, and many states have recently begun to add a few jobs, local governments are making new cuts that outweigh those gains. More than a quarter of municipal governments are planning layoffs this year, according to a survey by the Center for State and Local Government Excellence. They are being squeezed not only by declining federal and state support, but by their devastated property tax base.

Mr. Obama has made the counterargument that during past recessions the government sector has grown, rather than shrunk. The White House later said he meant recessions and the recoveries that followed.
But those with disappearing jobs say that the effects are not just economic — they mean longer response times to fires, larger class sizes, and in some cases lawsuits when short-staffed agencies are unable to provide the required services.
After 32 firefighters were laid off in Muncie, Ind., the area that could be reached within eight minutes was cut by half, said Mike Whited, the president of the firefighters union. A federal grant restored 25 workers, but the city does not know if it will be renewed….
Jobs in education have accounted for more than half the losses in local governments. Teachers and other school employees continue to receive layoff notices in California, Colorado, Nevada and Ohio, among others. In Los Angeles, about 11,700 teachers and others were notified in the spring. On Saturday, the teachers union ratified an agreement to save more than 4,000 jobs by taking furlough days.
To close a $64 million budget gap, the district in Clark County, Nevada, which encompasses Las Vegas, sent layoff notices to 400 teachers this month and will not fill 600 openings.
In Cleveland, the school district cited a $66 million budget deficit when announcing the layoff of more than 500 teachers this spring. David Quolke, president of the Cleveland Teachers Union, said it followed two years of cutbacks and $25 million in concessions from the union. He said that some classes would have more than 40 children.
Kimili Gulley, 32, has been teaching middle and high school math for nine years and expected her tenure to provide protection. But this month, she too is out of work. “So much emphasis is put on educating kids,” she said, “and yet funding is getting cut when it comes to educating kids. So it’s kind of hypocritical.”
Read the entire article. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/20/business/public-workers-face-continued-layoffs-and-recovery-is-hurt.html?ref=todayspaper



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