Public Elementary and Secondary Schools: Census of Governments Employment and Payroll Data for 2017

The two categories of public expenditures that account for the most money are education and health care, but there is a difference in the way they are managed.  Federal, state and local government expenditures fund perhaps 80 percent of third party (not co-payment) health care expenditures, directly (Medicare, Medicaid, the VA Hospital system) or indirectly (private insurance purchased on behalf of civilian government employees, the tax expenditure subsidy due to the exclusion of health insurance payments from taxable income), if voluntary services such as cosmetic surgery and dentistry are excluded.  But most actual health care services, even services to public employees, are provided by private sector health providers, not by employees of government agencies, with the government merely paying the bill. So state and local government health care expenditures show up more completely in Census of Governments finance data, which will be published at some point in the future, than in Census of Governments employment and payroll data.

Most education services, in contrast, are provided directly by government employees.  As a result elementary and secondary school employees accounted for 55.6% of all local government employment in March 2017, on a full time equivalent basis, and higher education employees accounted for 50.8% of state government employment, for that year and on that basis.  There are also local government higher education employees in many states including New York, mostly in community colleges.   It is elementary and secondary school employment and payroll that is the subject of this post.

This is the second post in a series on employment and payroll data from the 2017 Census of Governments, with data for comparison included from the 2007 and 1997 Censuses.  The first post, which described where the data is from and how it was tabulated, is here.

https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2019/09/20/census-of-governments-employment-and-payroll-data-for-march-2017-1997-and-2007/

That post included large spreadsheets and tables showing the whole extent of state and local government activities, across all areas and years.  This post re-organizes the data to allow a more specific discussion of public schools.

Earlier this year, I tabulated data from the annual Education Finances series for 1997, 2007 and 2017, and published this post explaining where the data came from:

https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2019/06/02/census-of-governments-fy-2017-public-education-finance-data-for-new-york-new-jersey-the-u-s-and-selected-other-states-areas/

And this analysis of the data:

https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2019/06/10/public-school-finance-over-two-decades-in-nyc-and-elsewhere-based-on-census-bureau-data-anyone-remember-school-reform/

That data showed that despite the constant media coverage of schools being defunded, education services being gutted, and teachers being cheated out of fair wages, benefits and class sizes, public school spending per student has actually soared across the country, and specifically in New York City.  In March 2017, in fact, the very time for which the data described in this post refers to, advocates for those who work in public education in New York, backed by the teacher’s union, were suing the rest of us for cheating them out of $billions.

https://www.newsday.com/long-island/education/court-to-weigh-dismissal-motion-for-school-funding-lawsuit-1.13688464

The education finance data showed that per student school spending in NYC, and teacher wages and benefits per student, had already more than doubled adjusted for inflation over the two decades since that lawsuit was originally filed.   There were big increases elsewhere in New York State as well.  There were, however, cuts in education funding per student in some low tax states, where state and local taxes had been cut further.

So what does the Census of Governments employment and payroll data say about public schools?

The tables and charts used in this post may be found in this spreadsheet.

Education Employment and Payroll 2017

And for those who prefer a picture of the numbers to the numbers themselves, here is a table for local government education employment.

Education Employment and Payroll 2017According to the Census Bureau, instructional employees include:

Click to access 2006_classification_manual.pdf

 Code 012. School Instructional Employees – Includes classroom teachers, principals, supervisors of instruction, superintendents, teacher aides, substitute teachers, school librarians, library aides, and guidance and psychological personnel.
While non-instructional employees include

Code 112. Administrative and Clerical Employees

Code 112. Operations and Maintenance Employees Code

  1. Cafeteria Employees
    Code 112. Bus Transportation Employees
    Code 112. Health and Recreation Employees

Code 112. Paid Student Employees
Code 112. Unallocable Elementary and Secondary Education Employees

At first glance elementary and secondary school employment appears to be relatively low in New York City, and relatively high in the rest of the state, in both the instructional and non-instructional employment categories.

Chart1New York City had 1,467 full time equivalent elementary and secondary school employees per 100,000 city residents in March 2017, about the same as the the 1,463 for the U.S, but far less than the 1,992 for the Downstate Suburbs, 2,000 for the Upstate Urban Counties, and 2,166 in the Rest of New York State. New Jersey was also above average at 1,889, as was Fairfield County, Connecticut at 1,928.  (The counties included in the Downstate Suburbs and Upstate Urban Counties were delineated in the first post in this series).

As for non-instructional employment, New York City had just 346 FTEs per 100,000 residents, far below the U.S. average of 638, the 810 for the Downstate Suburbs, the 927 for the Upstate Urban Counties, and the 959 for the Rest of New York State.  New Jersey was about average at 632, and Fairfield County was well below average at 542.

Remember, however, that with regard to New York City, you aren’t seeing everyone working in the schools.  Cafeteria and Bus Transportation services are contracted out to private sector companies here, and for some schools Operation and Maintenance of building services are contracted out as well.

New York City instructional employment, moreover, is not as low as it seems, due to certain aspects of urban life.

For one thing, over the decades the low quality of the city’s schools, and the fact that only about 1/3 of NYC housing units have three or more bedrooms compared with about 2/3 in the U.S. as a whole, has caused parents that can afford it to move to the suburbs, even if they work in the city, as their children reach school age, and more to do so once their children reach middle school age.

In 2017, the share of NYC’s people who were children ages 5 to 17 was just 14.3%, compared with 16.5% for the U.S. as a whole, 16.5% for the Downstate Suburbs, 16.2% for New Jersey, and 17.1% Fairfield County, Connecticut. Families with children are less common in the aging Northeast in general than in growing parts of the country. School-age children account for just 15.4% of the population in the Upstate Urban Counties, 14.8% in the Rest of New York State, and 15.1% in the Rest of Connecticut outside Fairfield County.

Moreover, a higher share than average share of NYC children attend private school.  That has always been the case, and is still the case today.  Perhaps due to the growth of charter schools offsetting the slow collapse of the Catholic parochial school system, which is squeezed between low pay for its employees and high costs for its mostly non-affluent parents, who end up paying for their children’s education twice – once in taxes for public schools and once in tuition.

Chart1bNew York City had 642 private elementary and secondary school employees per 100,000 city residents in 2017, more than double the U.S. average of 250. The Downstate Suburbs (428), Upstate Urban Counties (408), New Jersey (314) and Fairfield County, Connecticut (472) were all above the U.S. average as well, although the Rest of New York State was below average (166). In the Northeast, private colleges and universities also educate a relatively high share of students, compared with the rest of the country, and public hospitals are less common.  That is because non-profit organizations were long established here before state and local government expansion into education and health services.

Based on a public school student to instructional worker ratio, one finds that that the New York City public schools actually were far more highly staffed than average in March 2017, with other parts of the state more highly staffed still.   New York City had just 8.0 students per full time equivalent structural employee at the time, far below the U.S. average of 10.2.  At the time, New York City’s average class size exceeded 26 and one third of the city’s children were in classes with 30 more students.  This was part of the evidence that the city’s schools were being cheated by the rest of us.

https://www.wnyc.org/story/parents-push-ny-enforce-law-smaller-class-sizes/

The Downstate Suburbs, New Jersey and Fairfield County were slightly lower still at 7.7, 7.9, and 7.7 students per instructional employee respectively.  The average for the Upstate Urban Counties was far lower at 7.0, and that for the Rest of New York State was shockingly low at just 6.5.

New York City’s students per non-instructional employee, on the other hand, was 33.7, far above the U.S. average at 23.5.  Sky-high non-instructional staffing remains common in the rest of the state, at just 18.9 students per in the Downstate Suburbs, 15.0 in the Upstate Urban Counties, and 14.6 in the Rest of New York State.  New Jersey was average at 23.6, with Fairfield County having below average non-instructional staffing, with 27.6 students per.

Low compared with the U.S. average, New York City’s students per public school instructional worker is also low compared with the counties that include (or comprise) some of the nations largest or oldest central cities. The 8.0 students per instructional staffer in NYC, for example, compared with 15.1 for Los Angeles, 10.7 for Cook County (Chicago), 11.5 for Harris County (Houston), and 12.1 for Philadelphia.

Other large urban counties with relatively few students per instructional employee include San Francisco (8.0), Suffolk (mostly the city of Boston – 7.6), Washington DC (6.7), and Baltimore City (5.3). These are small cities that are the hubs of large and affluent metro areas, and have relatively few children and (other than Baltimore) relatively large tax bases.  These counties/cities are the equivalent of Manhattan, not New York City.

Chart2b

Baltimore City and Washington DC are also like NYC in that their private elementary and secondary school employment, per 100,000 residents, is relatively high.

The number of students per instructional employee was relatively low in the Downstate Suburbs compared not only with the U.S. average, but also with other affluent suburban counties.  In particular, the 7.7 students per FTE in the Downstate Suburbs was notably lower than Orange County in California (15.5) and Montgomery County in Maryland (10.2).  More on those counties later.

Students per instructional employee in the Upstate Urban Counties, at 7.0, is relatively low compared with urban Rustbelt counties such as Wayne (11.9), Cuyahoga (9.7), Alleghany (8.8), Milwaukee (8.7), and Hennepin (8.1).

The Rest of New York State’s rock bottom 6.5 students per instructional employee, however, is not that much different that the rural Northeast Frostbelt states of Maine (7.0), New Hampshire (6.6), and Vermont (6.2). The factory education model, with a large number of students aggregated into a single place and marched through a series of stations in the line, is not efficient in low-density areas where the children are widely dispersed.

Then again, at these low ratios of students per instructional employee – and even at the national average of 10.2 — one has to ask why the education industry is not providing a student-teacher ratio of 12.  With computer-based instruction and work assignments from the finest 0.01% of teachers nationwide (or globally) as a supplement to that one teacher per 12 students, with all styles of learning directed specifically at all demographic groups available.  With all the attention to education, why is the entire model never questioned (by anyone else)?

https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2017/01/15/schools-are-obsolete-ii/

Public education is massively inefficient, and either costs far too much for what the children are getting, or provides too little for what it costs. And the teacher’s unions have, for the most part, defeated “school reform,” however defined.

Based on what I had heard from media sources deemed reliable, I would have expected that the number of students per instructional employee had been going up since the great recession, as school budgets were cut.  The facts, however, do not support this assertion.

For the U.S. as a whole it decreased from 11.7 in 2017 to 10.3 in March 2007 and then fell further to 10.2 in March 2017. This matches up with the education finance spending which shows a big increase in per student spending during the “school reform” era followed by a leveling off, but not a decrease, during the Great Recession, as the Millennials were exiting school.

I did find some states were students per instructional employee did increase from 2007 to 2017, but to my surprise Texas and Florida were not among them.  In Colorado, Oklahoma, and Mariacopa County, AZ, instructional staffing did fall relative to the number of students from 2007 to 2017, but it remained higher than in 1997. The state that stands out for having more students per instructional employee is, in fact, California.

Chart3a

If one just looks at the number of elementary and secondary school instructional employees per 100,000 population, one does see an increase from 1997 to 2007 followed by a reversal from 2007 to 2017, for the U.S., New York City and New Jersey.  In the Downstate Suburbs, the Upstate Urban Counties, and Fairfield County, on the other hand, instructional employees per 100,000 people continued to increase from 2007 to 2017.   In the Rest of New York State, where the population is falling, the ratio of instructional school employees to population soared.

When one compares the ratio of instructional employees to public school students, rather than the entire population, one finds that students per instructional employee fell in New York City and New Jersey as well as the U.S. as a whole from 2007 to 2017.

In New York City the decrease was from 10.6 in 1997, as the boom in enrollment associated with the Millennials was peaking, to 8.3 in 2007 to 8.0 in 2017, as demand for more spending on schools (leaving less for other things) continued.  The decrease in New Jersey was from 10.1 to 8.1 to 7.9 – not that much different than New York City in any year, despite much higher NYC class sizes.

In 1997 NYC teacher pay was low compared with the rest of the metro area, but NYC teachers also spent less time with children than teachers just about anywhere else.  As part of the now-defeated school reform era NYC teacher pay increased by 20 percent in 2002, but the number of out of classroom assignments for teachers was cut, during the first year of the Bloomberg Administration.  The pay increase was kept, but the DeBlasio Administration restored many of the out of classroom assignments – and hired a whole bunch of paraprofessionals – in exchange for political support from the United Federation of Teachers.

https://www.wnyc.org/story/teachers-labor-deal/

The city would do away with an extra 37.5 minute period to help struggling students, an item that was part of the 2005 contract. Instead, the contract would reconfigure that time to give teachers more professional development each week.

Seeking the support of the United Federation of Teachers for a future run for Mayor, Comptroller Scott Stringer has promised even more out of classroom assignments, requiring even more teachers or even larger class sizes.

Stringer calls for paid teacher residencies — the latest piece of a burgeoning education platform as he eyes a run for mayor

His latest plan calls for a $40 million investment in what he said would be the largest teacher residency model in the country. Residents would receive a $30,000 stipend while co-teaching with an experienced mentor…Mentors would receive specific training and an unspecified pay increase for working alongside developing teachers.

Basically, having paid for some teachers to be “lead teachers” and “model teachers” under the DeBlasio contract, Stringer proposes that city residents pay a second time, with more teachers not having to have their own class.

Falling in New York City, the number of students per FTE instructional worker fell even more elsewhere in New York State.   In the Downstate Suburbs, from 10.1 in 1997 to 8.7 in New York City to 7.7 in 2017.  In the Upstate Urban Counties from 9.4 to 8.0 to 7.0.  And in the Rest of New York State from 9.8 to 7.6 to 6.5.

Chart3c

The pattern of increasing public school employment per 100,000 residents from 1997 to 2007 followed by a decrease from 2007 to 2017 repeats for non-instructional staff, for the United States, the Downstate Suburbs, and New Jersey.  For non-instructional, the pattern is also followed by the Downstate Suburbs, the Upstate Urban Counties, and Fairfield County.

New York City non-instructional public school employment per 100,000 people fell from 1997 to 2007 as well as 2007 to 2017.  And in the Rest of New York State, it continued to soar from 2007 to 2017.

Compared with enrollment, one does find some limited staffing reduction in non-instructional employment from 2007 to 2017, in the U.S., New York City, New Jersey, and Fairfield County, Connecticut.  But the number of students per non-instructional employee continued to decrease in other parts of New York State, notably in Upstate New York.

Chart3e

Meanwhile, one finds that private elementary and secondary school employment per 100,000 area residents increased both from 1997 to 2007 and from 2007 to 2017, pretty much everywhere.   If parents have and can afford a choice, it seems, they will take it, which is why in addition to defeating any school reform (however defined, other than more money for less work) within their own organizations, those in public education are desperate to take choices away.

There were 156 private elementary and secondary school employees per 100,000 people in the U.S. in 1997, 210 in 2007, and 250 in 2017. In New York City the increase was from 315 to 426 to 628.  Other parts of metro New York, where the public schools have had better reputations over the decades, show gains as well:  from 366 to 397 to 425 in the Downstate Suburbs, from 180 to 288 to 314 in New Jersey, from 252 to 404 to 472 in Fairfield County. There were increases Upstate as well, from 335 to 362 to 405 in the Urban Counties and from 125 to 149 to 166 elsewhere.

All this was taking place when the Catholic Parochial School system was shrinking rapidly, because the low-paid religious teachers and endowments that once sustained it are shrinking away.

The number of students per instructional employee is going down in part because school systems are reluctant to reduce their staff, even by attrition, when enrollment goes down.

We’ve seen this before.  Public employment is seen as a source of revenues for interest groups, their share of the pie in exchange for political support, not services for private sector serfs.  It doesn’t necessarily rise as the need does, as in New York City in the 1990s, when the Millennials were surging into the schools.  And it doesn’t necessarily fall as the need decreases, freeing up resources for government functions with growing needs.

From 2007 to 2017 the number of public school students only increased slightly in the United States as a whole, falling as a share of the population. There were small decreases in New York City and New Jersey.

In Upstate New York, however, enrollment plunged 9.5% in the Urban Counties and 12.8% elsewhere.  Huge declines.  With high-wage manufacturing employment disappearing from this area, state and local government jobs are now the richest jobs available, and if they decrease even more people might decide to leave.  So the number of full time equivalent elementary and secondary school instructional employees actually increased from 81,807 in 2007 to 84,352 in 2017 in the Urban Counties and from 55,361 to 57,119 in the Rest of New York State.  For non-instructional there were small decreases of 4.5% in the Urban Counties and 3.6% in the Rest of New York State, far less than the decrease in enrollment.

The mean earnings (wages and benefits) per Upstate New York private sector worker, adjusted for inflation, is lower now than it had been in 1969. Upstate taxpayers are in no position to carry the burden of excess education costs.  They look to others for that.

Upstate’s enrollment declines are not unique.  One finds similar declines in many urban Rustbelt counties, in northern New England, and in parts of Connecticut distant from New York City.  Some places have attracted more public school children.  Hennepin County (Minneapolis) has an economy driven by high skill precision manufacturing, like metro Rochester, and has done better.  So has Franklin County, which includes Columbus, the state capital of Ohio.

Getting back to New York City, while the number of instructional workers is high compared with the number of students, it is the number of retired instructional employees that is particularly sky-high.   According to the Encyclopedia of New York City:

During the 1950s, the public school system in New York City enrolled more than a million students.  At its best the system was a model known for its innovations in teaching and for graduating many students who went on to college and professional careers…Yet at the same time the system contained the worst problems associated with urban education.  The proportion of dropouts was high, especially in schools serving poorer neighborhoods and ethnic minorities.  Intensive residential segregation in the city had led to racially identifiable “tracking” in high schools.

Sounds like today.

Except that instead of somewhat more than one million public school students in NYC, there are somewhat fewer than one million.  Meanwhile the number of instructional employees, active and retired, being paid, based on membership in the New York City Teachers Retirement System, increased from 53,525 in 1957 to 209,350 in 2018.  Four times as many.  The number of active (working members) increased from 113,258 in 2007 to 123,000 in 2017 despite a decrease in enrollment.

When the factory school model was operating at peak efficiency, it only required 53,525 active and retired instructional workers to serve 1 million children.  Today we are paying artisanal, cottage industry, high-craft, locally-grown organic prices, with four times as many paid, for factory school education.  Not to benefit active teachers who care about their jobs, as far as I can tell, and certainly not to benefit parents, taxpayers, children.  Who then?

From a discussion of elementary and secondary school employment, let’s move on to payroll per employee.   Here is a picture of the table in the spreadsheet.

What one hears in the media is that teacher pay has been going way down, either because state and local governments want to cut taxes, or because they are unwilling to increase them enough to offset rising pension costs, depending on the location.   And that has led to a number of strikes.  Of course the average pay of most workers has been going down for decades, with the Millennials paid 25.0% less than Baby Boomers had been paid at the same age, despite higher average educational attainment.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/playing-catch-up-in-the-game-of-life-millennials-approach-middle-age-in-crisis-11558290908

According to American Community Survey data from the Census Bureau here in New York City, as in the U.S. as a whole, the median wage and salary income per person was generally lower in 2017 than in 2007 after adjustment for inflation, though college educated men had a slight increase.

What about public school instructional workers?

Once again I didn’t find what I expected, based on what I have been told. For the U.S. as a whole, the mean March payroll per full time equivalent instructional worker did decrease from $4,837 in 2007 (in $2017) to $4,814 in 2017, but that is a decrease of just 0.5% in a decade when most Americans had it rough.  And that decrease followed an increase from $4,609 in 1997, a gain of 4.9%.

I did find some places where instructional public school employees fell far more.  There were 2007 to 2017 decreases of 13.3% in Mariacopa County (Phoenix), 18.9% in Florida, 6.4% in Oklahoma, 2.0% in Colorado, and 6.4% in Los Angeles County, California. Florida appears to have kept staffing levels but cut average pay.  But real mean March payroll per employee did not decrease in California as a whole, or in Texas, as I might have guessed.  And in some places, generally those where it was already high to begin with, it went up.

In 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the mean earnings (wages and salaries and benefits) per private sector worker (including the self employed) in metro New York was 35.2% above the U.S. average if Wall Street (the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate sector in Manhattan) was included, and 21.4% above the U.S. average excluding Wall Street – but including all the other one percenters, doctors, lawyers, and those who work for Google.

According to the Census of Governments, New York City’s mean March payroll per full time equivalent instructional elementary and secondary school employee was 25.4% above the U.S. average.   More than NYC’s private sector workers (excluding Wall Street) were above the U.S. average, but not by much.  Perhaps about what it should be, one might think.  For the most part the way NYC public employees are overpaid for what they do is NOT in cash, which everyone can see, and which might motivate more people to choose a government career and motivate them to work harder.  So they can face their neighbors, NYC public employees like their riches to be shrouded.

https://www.nber.org/papers/w18976

On the other hand, the mean March payroll per instructional employee was 29.7% above the U.S. average in Fairfield County, Connecticut, 35.9% above the U.S. average for the state of New Jersey as a whole, and 60.1% above average for the Downstate Suburbs in New York, with the latter far out of scale with the private sector.  All higher than NYC.

In Upstate New York the average private sector worker earned 8.8% less than the U.S. average in the Urban Counties and 24.1% less than the U.S. average in the Rest of NY State.  But public school instructional employees were paid 19.8% more than the U.S. average in the Urban Counties and 4.8% in the Rest of NY State.  In Upstate New York, those who work for the schools are some of the richest people around.

The March mean payroll per non-instructional full time equivalent employee was 28.6% higher than the U.S. average in New York City, 27.3% above average in New Jersey, 27.6% above average in Fairfield County – and 39.5% above average in the Downstate Suburbs.   Once again, NYC’s the extent to which NYC’s school cash pay exceeds the U.S. average does not seem that out of line compared with the private sector, and is below the average for surrounding areas.

According to one of the progressive (21stcentury definition) ideas of the DeBlasio administration, however, it isn’t just those who work directly for the government who deserve to get richer and richer compared with other New Yorkers, but also those who are funded by the government under contract.  The Education Finance data shows that NYC spending on school buses and custodial services soared from 2007 to 2017, to far above the U.S. average, despite all of the former and some of the latter being contracted out.

Non-instructional employees were paid 11.7% more than the U.S. average in the Upstate Urban Counties and 2.3% in the Rest of New York State.

Examining other affluent suburban counties around the country, one finds that in most cases the mean payroll per instructional public school employee does not exceed the U.S. average by vastly more than the mean earnings per private sector worker.  As is the case for the Downstate Suburbs.

Take for example a couple of places people I know are moving to, from New Jersey and Fairfield County, Connecticut (where they had already moved after leaving New York).   In Wake County NC (Raleigh-Cary), the average private sector worker in the broader metro earns 1.9% less than the U.S. average, and the average public school instructional employee in the county is paid 3.7% less.  About the same.  And in Fairfax County, VA, the average private sector worker in metro Washington earns 25.2% more than the U.S. average and the average public school instructional employee in the county is paid 22.4% more.  About the same.

There are two notable exceptions.   In Orange County, California, the average private sector worker earns 10.1% more than the U.S. average, but the average public school instructional employee is paid 60.0% more.  Far more.  And in Montgomery County, MD the average private sector worker in metro Washington (once again) earns 25.2% more than the U.S. average, but the average public school instructional employee is paid 69.7% more.  Far more.

But remember the student to instructional employee ratio in those counties – 15.5 in Orange County and 10.2 in Montgomery County, compared with just 7.7 in the Downstate Suburbs.   So yes, instructional personnel are paid a lot in Orange and Montgomery Counties, but they also apparently spend more time with kids and less time in out of classroom assignments, as administrators, or not working. And in the Education Finances data, I found that the Montgomery County school district’s instructional wages and benefits per student were vastly lower than the average for the Downstate Suburbs.

Does that mean I am in favor of countywide school districts in New York, as in Maryland?  No.  But if Governor Cuomo ever wanted to expose the teachers union and faux progressives that destroyed his reputation, he might want to consider something I would propose – countywide local school taxes.  As I described here.

https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2015/01/17/why-the-powerful-will-never-allow-new-york-states-school-funding-equity-problem-to-be-solved/

And yes, I was and am serious.  This is the right thing to do, although they would never do it.  But before even proposing it to expose the hypocrisy, Cuomo might want to get his house sold first.

https://ny.curbed.com/2019/8/23/20829599/andrew-cuomo-sandra-lee-westchester-new-york-house-for-sale

Using that more detailed Education Finances data, and dividing it by the number of FTEs from the Census of Governments, I can finally add up what New York’s instructional workers (teachers, administrators, counselors, others) get in total compensation, on average.  And as with the case with just the number of people, it is the retired – and benefit income – not the working – and wage and salary income – that really stand out in New York City.

In the United States, the mean 2017 instructional compensation per March full time equivalent instructional employee was $61,913 in wages and salaries and $22,310 in benefits.

The mean wages and salary per New York City instructional employee was $86,268, 39.3% higher than the U.S. average.  NYC teachers must be more likely to get paid during the summer, because the annual wage and salary income per instructional employee exceeds the U.S. average by far more than the March 2017 payroll per employee.

The mean benefit expenditures per New York City instructional employee was $54,426, 143.9% higher than the U.S. average.  Two and one-half times as much.

That adds to $140,693 in mean compensation per New York City public school instructional employee.  That is what we are paying, according to those suing us, in exchange for schools that are so bad they violate the state constitution, which is exactly what we deserve because we are cheating them out of $billions.

The mean earnings (including benefits) per private sector worker (including the self-employed) in metro New York, according to the BEA, was $79,246 if Wall Street is included, and $71,139 if it isn’t – about half the $140,693 NYC public school instructional employees get.   Which they resent, according to what one reads in the press. Perhaps because the average for the Downstate Suburbs is $147,747.

Then again the average for New Jersey is just $100,071 in wages and benefits per FTE instructional employee, with $85,819 in Connecticut, $85,519 in Massachusetts, $105,047 in Pennsylvania (in large part benefits and the retired), $77,703 in Vermont, and $117,696 in California, which is hardly a low-tax, anti-union state.

In Upstate NY, the mean wages and benefits per FTE instructional employee is $99,561 for the Urban Counties and $96,297 for the Rest of New York State.  And the mean earnings per private sector worker is $53,455 in the Urban Counties and $44,488 in the Rest of New York State.

My impression of non-instructional elementary and secondary school employees is they don’t get paid a lot, with mean wage and salary income of $21,250 and mean benefit income of $8,829 nationwide.  That totals $30,079, but perhaps they are grateful to have health insurance and a pension.  The NYC total, on the other hand, is $73,558, far higher than anywhere else.  But offset by a relatively low level of employment and with the caveat that NYC contracts out many services, so its non-instructional employment may skew toward managers and professionals.

Getting back to Census of Governments data, and March payroll per full time equivalent instructional employee, how did this change from 2007 to 2017?

Mean payroll per instructional employee, adjusted for inflation, fell 0.5% in the U.S. as a whole, not much, and it increased by 4.1% in New York City, 9.2% in the Downstate Suburbs, 1.3% in Upstate NY, 0.6% in New Jersey, and 6.0% in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Even as the average worker, who pays for this, fell behind inflation.

In 1997, the mean payroll per New York City instructional employee was only 10.8% above the U.S. average – offset, at the time, by the fact that NYC teachers spent far fewer hours with children than teachers anywhere else. After “school reform,” NYC teachers were earning 19.9% more than the U.S. average in 2007, despite that fact that many new low-earning teachers had been hired.  And then it increased again to 25.4% more than the U.S. average in 2017.

I would have expected mean payroll per instructional employee to increase if the number of such employees were falling with enrollment, since low-paid new teachers would be a smaller share of the total.  But the number of instructional employees increased in the rest of the state despite falling enrollment, and so did mean payroll per instructional employees relative to the U.S. average.

Mean non-instructional pay per employee was also higher relative to the U.S average in 2017 than it had been in 2007 in the Downstate Suburbs, Upstate Urban Counties, and the Rest of New York State.  It was down for NYC, but higher than in 1997.

Meanwhile, the extent to which private sector workers in the tri-state area earn more than the U.S. average has been going down, with or without Wall Street included.  From the point of view of the serfs, if the executive/financial class is getting less, all the better.  But the political/union class has taken more, and without the excess tax revenues from Wall Street pillaging the world, they’ll look to force the serfs to pay for it, in higher taxes and services forgone.

What this data shows is very different than what the media reports, which seems to be based on press releases from interest groups.  Why don’t they just look at the numbers? I don’t know.

All I know is I don’t like being lied to, manipulated, deceived. People in New York City may be disappointed to find that the deceit and manipulation is not limited to Wall Street, Donald Trump, and Fox News, bad as they are.  It’s across the board.  Even the teachers.

What about the professors?  That will be the subject of the next post, when I have the time and energy to write it.

2 thoughts on “Public Elementary and Secondary Schools: Census of Governments Employment and Payroll Data for 2017

  1. Stevie

    California propositions require a substantial share of state funding to be dedicated to K-12 education. So even during the Great Recession, funding didn’t fall as much as it might have otherwise. According to studies I’ve seen, class sizes below 15 (ideally about 10) or above 30 have measurable affects on attainment, in between outcomes appear consistent. California made several very expensive attempts to reduce class sizes from around 30 to about 20, to little apparent academic benefit.

    I wonder if some personnel increase could for special needs students needing dedicated staff. I haven’t seen any data, but heard anecdotal reports that for some districts this has absorbed a sizable portion of resources. But there is administrative bloat everywhere, especially at higher paid tiers. (But even during the 1970’s I recall my high school teachers complaining about top-heavy administration.)

    I think blaring but localized press reports often cause concepts to become generalized in the public’s mind. In areas like Kansas or Arkansas, teachers probably are grossly underpaid. So this somehow gets generalized nationwide. The flip side is the notion that all lawyers make great money, or that all tech workers outside the Bay Area make Silicon Valley salaries (I wish). Or that perceived crime is much higher than actual crime.

    The idea of planted stories to influence public opinion is hardly new. Remember stories about crazy liability lawsuits (an epidemic of them, egads!) about 30 years ago that later turned out to be not just propaganda but false? Or the totally bogus claims about 20 years ago by fortune 500 companies that private pensions were bankrupting them (and that money then secretly redirected to upper management)? That our credulous press allowed such propaganda to be planted and then go unchallenged explains some of their reputational decline. This was the original fake news, and sadly, it often worked.

    1. larrylittlefield Post author

      What bothers me is that the dedicated staff of the Census Bureau collects the data, and the MSM generally doesn’t even bother to check it.

      Only one reporter ever did what I think ought to be done. Brian Rosenthal of the NY Times, who was writing about the subway. I showed him my analysis of transit finance data from the National Transit Database, and said don’t just say “Larry Littlefield says.” Check what I did back to the original source, so you can say “this is the way it is.” And he actually did it.

      Press release journalism. You get a press release about a “study” from a pol or interest group. You get a quote in opposition from the usual suspects. There is your story. Many of those studies, let alone the press releases, don’t contain any actual sources and data that can be checked. Next up — the falsification of federal statistics themselves.

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