In the past few years I’ve come across multiple instances when federal data on City of New York expenditures, and only City of New York expenditures, has been incorrect. Always in a way that make it seem as if those expenditures are lower, public employment per 100,000 people lower, and NYC public workers less well paid than they actually are. The data affected has been the public employee pension data aggregated by the Census Bureau, population data at the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and state and local government earnings data aggregated by the BEA. At the local level some key information has been eliminated altogether, notably the “full agency cost” table. I’ve been following the data for decades, and haven’t seen much like it.
Given that I’ve just completed a comprehensive analysis of state and local government finances based largely on the 2017 Census of Governments, I hadn’t planned to re-doing an analysis of education finances for FY 2018. But I decided to check to see if something funky happened to those numbers as well. It has. According to data reported to the Census Bureau, the wages and salaries of NYC elementary and secondary school workers were $373 million lower in FY 2018 than they had been in FY 2017, with a reduction of $205.6 million for instructional workers. I checked around to see if there was something that could explain this. Here is what I found.