More Pink Slips Are in the Mail

Public school workers, from teachers and librarians to school nurses and bus drivers, are among the many casualties of state budget cuts in recent years, and their ranks may soon grow. Today marks the day that public schools send out pink slips to teachers and other school staff who may be laid off by the time school starts up again in the fall. According to the California Teachers Association, school districts across the state sent out more than 20,000 notices by today.

With uncertainty surrounding how the state will close its 2011-12 budget shortfall, school districts likely played it safe and overestimated the number of layoffs they’ll have to make this fall. By law, districts cannot dismiss most teachers and certain other school staff unless they were notified by March 15 that they could lose their jobs. This means districts must estimate far in advance how many employees they think they’ll have to let go before the upcoming school year begins. And right now, districts fear deeper cuts could be in store if the Governor’s proposed tax extensions are not part of a balanced approach to closing the state’s budget gap.

The more than 20,000 layoff notices sent out by today represent a tangible illustration of how additional budget cuts could further restrain recovery in California’s job market. While the private sector has slowly added back jobs for more than a year, the public sector has continued to shed jobs, driven almost entirely by the loss of county, city, and public school jobs – collectively called “local government jobs” in the data. In fact, for every three workers who’ve found a job in the private sector over the past year, one county, city, or public school employee has lost his or her job. In other words, local government job losses have offset about a third of private sector job gains.

Recent economic forecasts warn that additional state and local budget cuts will be a significant impediment to the recovery for this very reason: budget cuts result in job loss. This is why the CBP is continuing to call for a balanced approach to closing the state’s budget shortfall. Without additional revenues, deeper cuts threaten to weaken the still fragile recovery.

— Alissa Anderson