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A regular update from the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown’s McCourt School. 
By Chad Aldeman
It’s a strange time in the education labor market.
Contrary to an inaccurate and frustratingly persistent media narrative, teachers aren’t leaving in droves. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has been tracking job openings and labor turnover since the early 2000s, and voluntary quits, layoffs, and retirements among public education employees are at all-time lows.

At the same time, the number of open jobs and the number of new hires in public education are at all-time highs. The chart below (with the latest data through July) shows the number of new hires (in green) is rising rapidly. And, employers would like to hire even more (represented by job openings, in red). 

If school employees aren’t leaving, why are there so many openings? We suspect there are unfilled positions from last year when schooling was remote, as well as newly created positions to be paid for with federal relief funds.
Regardless, labor shortages are forcing districts to get creative to solve their workforce challenges. Struggling to find enough bus drivers, custodians, counselors, nurses, subs, special ed teachers, and more, some districts are innovating with new pay schemes and new delivery models. 
For example, Marguerite and I looked at how districts are responding to bus driver shortages. While some simply cut services or postponed the start of school, others have moved quickly to adapt. Many are introducing new compensation strategies or going after new labor markets, while some are leveraging parents as paid partners to transport kids.
The race to hire hasn’t shown any signs of stopping. But as I note in The 74, districts can get into trouble if they use temporary funds to make permanent staffing commitments
As Marguerite cautions for The Gadfly, “some district leaders are right now making choices that will exacerbate the very fiscal cliff they’re worried about. They’re making financial commitments that are all but guaranteed to bring financial mayhem in two years or so.”
Struggling with budget or labor issues in your community? Georgetown University’s Certificate in Education Finance can help. We’ve opened registration for our fall Certificate in Education Finance program. We’re offering both a virtual cohort as well as a two-day in-person experience in New Orleans. Please share with your networks.
Trending from the Edunomics Lab
Teacher turnover rates remain low: Chicago had an uptick in teacher retirements last year, but fewer employees left the district overall. A similar story played out in New York City. My reaction to the New York Daily News: “It’s not the expected boom [in turnovers] we had … feared” based on the surveys of teachers who said they were unhappy.
 
Maintenance of Equity: Watch our 30-minute webinar or read our EdNext piece explaining how the provision works, the impact it will have on school districts, and potential issues with how it might work in practice.
 
Why not more innovation? Marguerite talked to the Associated Press about how “we sprinkled the dollars … to every one of these districts. And many [districts] are going to do what they already know how to do…. That’s not a recipe for innovation.”  
 
Tutoring logistics: Marguerite shared with NPR how logistical hurdles may be driving district spending choices, including those for tutoring: "They've got to hire people. They've got to manage the schedule. They've got to figure out where they're going to meet. They've got to coordinate with families."
 
So how can districts spend federal relief funds wisely? In AASA’s School Administrator magazine, Marguerite and I offer five key questions district leaders can ask to ensure they make the most of their federal dollars.
As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out with insights or suggestions: Chad.Aldeman@georgetown.edu
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Edunomics Lab is a Georgetown University research center exploring and modeling complex education finance decisions to inform education policy and practice.
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