Washington, D.C. — Center for American Progress Economist Michael Madowitz released the following statement today on the August 2018 Employment Situation figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
The U.S. Department of Labor reports the economy added 201,000 jobs in July, with the unemployment rate falling to 3.9 percent percent. Wages grew 2.9 percent over the past year, continuing to tread water when rising costs are taken into account. It’s remarkable that after 95 straight months of job growth workers are still not seeing the wage growth a balanced economy has typically produced in times like these. Yet, markets expect the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates again this month, slowing wage pressures as it reacts to a tax cut that continues to deliver remarkable growth in corporate profits—but not wages.
With America’s children returning to school, it’s important to note one group that has been particularly left out of this recovery: teachers. While employment in the private sector reached pre-recession levels years ago, overall government employment is nearing it’s 2007 levels only this year. A major driver of this slow recovery is fewer teachers—local governments’ have roughly 120,000 fewer teachers than before the recession today, up from a decline of 300,000 at their lowest point. Across the country we’re experiencing a growing wave of teachers demanding action for their students, with a teacher walkout in Washington state this week bringing the number of states with walkouts over pay and school budgets to seven so far this year. These actions are important because insufficient resources for children isn’t bad economic luck but rather the result of policy choices on top of a long-standing practice of systematically paying teachers less than they deserve. The rest of the economy stopped shedding jobs in 2010; the recovery in local government education hiring started four years later.
Teachers on strike are an important reminder that the choices our leaders make have real, long-lasting consequences. And those choices have produced record corporate profits during a lost decade for the people we trust to educate our children.
Related resource: The State of the U.S. Labor Market: Pre-August 2018 Jobs Release by Galen Hendricks, Danielle Zessoules, and Michael Madowitz
For more information or to speak to an expert, contact Rafael Medina at firstname.lastname@example.org.