Ending The Teacher Depression

The White House is determined to keep the focus on the core ideas of the American Jobs Act even though Senate Republicans killed it last week. So the president is now barnstorming the country touting the separate initiatives, and Senate Democrats will be bringing separate elements to the floor as individual provisions. Personally, I don’t think barnstorming works as a legislative strategy, but I’m happy to play along by focusing attention on the individual provisions. So today: Teachers!

One bill Congress will be voting on would direct federal monies to the cause of giving state and local government the money they need to reverse the trend toward teacher layoffs. What trend? This trend:

Contrast that with the reasonably sharp rebound in private sector employment under conditions of Kenyan anti-colonialism:

The deeper logic here goes as follows. Imagine a world where unemployment is low and wages are rising. In a world like that, teachers who get laid off would get new jobs quickly. Private firms, after all, would be looking to expand but they’re having trouble finding workers.

In the real world, unemployment is high and wages are flat so this doesn’t happen. Instead the teacher’s family just faces an immediate need to restrain spending. Defer any purchases of durable goods, stop eating at restaurants, don’t update the wardrobe this season, etc. So now there’s a drag on employment of cooks and waitresses, of clothing retailers, of truck drivers, of guys who install refrigerators, and so forth.