U.S. public schools cut 11,000 jobs in December

Fri Jan 4, 2013 4:45pm EST
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By Anna Yukhananov and Lisa Lambert

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Local U.S. governments cut jobs for the fourth straight month in December, including 11,000 in public schools, dragging down the nation's fragile economic recovery, jobs data showed on Friday.

Local government jobs are now at their lowest level since October 2005, with the bulk of the decline coming from layoffs of teachers and other school employees, according to the Labor Department.

For more than a year, persistent declines in public sector employment - particularly at the city, county and school district level - have stood in contrast to steady job gains in the private sector.

Jan Eberly, the U.S. Treasury assistant secretary for economic policy, said recent improvements in state budgets may start to reverse some of the declines next year.

"There is some expectation that state and local budgets will start to improve as the economy is picking up, and we're seeing improvements in many states, though not in all states," Eberly told reporters on Friday.

Overall government employment in the United States fell by 13,000 last month, the Labor Department said. Those jobs were almost all lost in public schools. Local governments shed 11,000 school jobs, and local agencies outside of schools had 2,200 more job losses.

State governments, meanwhile, added 4,000 jobs while federal government jobs fell by 3,000 in December, according to the report.

State and local government spending grew at a 0.3 percent annual rate in the third quarter, after 11 straight quarters of contraction, the Commerce Department reported last month. But many states, cities and counties are planning to keep spending flat as they continue to face uncertainty about federal funding levels and revenues.   Continued...