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Local Education Hiring is Up, Even With Sequestration Cuts

Congress is gearing up to have a serious discussion of sequestration—which sliced 5 percent from federal K-12 spending last year—so have there been major, widespread job losses in the K-12 sector?

Not really, says a new report from the Obama administration, which back in March warned that 40,000 teachers could be laid off due to the sequester cuts. In fact, it looks like the opposite may be true: Local government education employment posted a monthly increase of 9,500 jobs, according to the September jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That brought the overall gain to 56,400 jobs since June. More over at Marketplace K-12.

But, as my colleague, Ben Kamisar points out, the White House is careful to note that education job gains have a long way go to get back to the previous, pre-financial crisis peak in June of 2008—and student population numbers continue to balloon. The report "understates the teacher and education jobs gap," writes Jason Furman, the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. 

Still, this jobs report is especially key for seeing the overall impact—for now—of sequestration on schools. The cuts hit most districts at the start of the 2013-14 school year.

Why the increase in edu-jobs at a time when the feds are paring back? State spending on K-12 is up in a lot of places, which has helped to blunt the federal cuts. More here.

Does this mean sequestration hasn't had any impact on education? Not at all. In fact, some schools, particularly those that receive federal Impact Aid, are mulling staff reductions, program cuts, and other difficult choices. (Impact Aid helps districts make up for the loss of tax revenue due to a nearby federal presence, such as a military base or Native American reservation.) And, in the area of early childhood education, 57,000 kids have lost their Head Start slots, thanks to the cuts.

Plus, advocates argue, state and local increases to education spending would have gone a lot further if locals weren't trying to make up lost fiscal ground. And, advocates contend, districts were able to spare classrooms from sequester pain during the first year of the cuts, but it will be a lot tougher going forward. More here.  

What, if anything, does the jobs report mean as education advocates ready their case against sequestration? Comments section is open! 

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