Morning Must Reads: More On Layoffs in the Pittsburgh School District and State of Working PA

State of Working PA 2012I'm back! Unfortunately, I will not be appearing in a film with 80s action stars, but I will once again be dishing out news and policy analysis each morning. I want to thank all my regular readers who organized that petition to get me back blogging (yeah, I didn't see it either; I'm sure people were just busy).

I took a break to finish up the State of Working Pennsylvania, which by the way came out Wednesday morning. Here is the coverage so far.

Also this morning, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reviews the changes necessitated by the layoff of a third of the Pittsburgh City School District's teachers and staff since the last school year.

The table below presents the change in employment by sector in Allegheny County (including more than just the City of Pittsburgh) for 2011, which would be the middle of the last school year. You will note local government in Allegheny County shed more than 2,000 workers in 2011.

As we detail in the State of Working Pennsylvania, much of that local government job loss is in school districts. One of the burning questions is whether the layoffs in 2012 will be as substantial as those that occurred in 2011. The early signs are that the number of public-sector layoffs so far in 2012 are smaller than those observed at the same point last year. The bad news is overall job growth has also slowed recently, meaning employment growth is falling further and further behind working-age population growth in the commonwealth.

Students in Pittsburgh Public Schools will see a lot of new faces when classes begin this week.

About a third of last year's school-based workforce in city school district has been furloughed, reassigned to a different school, retired or resigned.

The school board last week approved the latest changes that call for transferring 611 salaried school-based employees from one position or school to another, including more than 400 K-12 teachers.

The transfers also include social workers, counselors, adjunct teachers, secretaries and data specialists, technical-clerical staff, paraprofessionals, pre-K staff and school-based administrators.

Overall, the transfers amount to about 1 in 5 of all remaining school-based employees.

When you read State of Working Pennsylvania (and yes you will read it because there will be a test), you will note our findings and our tone are pretty grim. But as we make clear in the conclusion, all is not lost: we can turn this ship around. To do that, we need better policy choices aimed at lifting up working and middle-income families.

The policy choices are the easy part. The hard part is getting more good people to go to bat for a better society. So on that note, I will leave you with two stories from this morning about good people trying to change the world. 

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