Over the past three years, the state and local public workforce in North Carolina has shrunk by more than 26,000 jobs, with most of those jobs cut from schools, community colleges, and universities in communities across the state.
The consequences of eliminating state and local jobs reach far beyond the personal misfortunes of those who lose their jobs: losing educators, first responders, and other public workers threatens our and our children’s economic future while putting our communities at greater risk of natural and man-made disasters.
Job losses among public workers are also partly responsible for holding back economic recovery in the private sector. That’s because losing a teacher or a first responder in a community means less income and less spending at local businesses, which are then less able to hire and maintain their own workers.
That’s why the provision in President Obama’s American Jobs Act to provide $35 billion to state and local governments across the country is so vital to create and preserve jobs. North Carolina’s share of these funds would be over $900 million, enough to restore more than half of the state and local jobs lost over the past three years while at the same time providing a much-needed boost to spending at local businesses in communities across the state.
State and local revenues across the country are finally beginning to rebound after suffering the largest declines since the Great Depression, but it will still be a few years before state and local governments will have adequate revenues to support anything near pre-recession levels of public services. Sustaining federal support for state and local services and workers will be critical to minimize the substantial drag that state and local budget cuts and layoffs are having on the state and national economy while continuing to provide children with the tools they’ll need to succeed in the years ahead.