In FY 1972, when a large number of Baby Boomers were still in school, U.S. elementary and secondary school expenditures equaled 4.59% of U.S. residents’ personal income. That fell to a low of 3.69% of income in FY 1984, after the Boomers exited and enrollment shrunk. The figure increased to a non-recession (recessions depress income) high of 4.51% of income in FY 2004, when a large share of the Millennials were in school, before falling to around 3.9% of income each year from FY 2014 to FY 2017, after they exited.
New York State, however, has diverged from the pattern. In New York City elementary and secondary school expenditures were around 5.0% of personal income each year from FY 2013 to FY 2017, actually higher than the 4.3% of personal income in 2004. The rest of NY State averaged 6.4% of income in FY 2004, but was only modestly lower at just under 6.0% of personal income from FY 2015 to FY 2017. New York’s elementary and secondary school expenditures were already high, compared with the rest of the country, in FY 2004, but the gap has increased since – despite an economy that has favored NY State in general, and New York City in particular, increasing the personal income that spending is being divided by.
New York’s public school expenditures are now at an extreme, even as the city and state face recession. Rising pension and retiree health care expenditures, as a result of a long series of retroactive pension increases for teachers, are one key reason. A high level of public school employment, despite falling enrollment, with the schools used as a job program and source of dues revenues, is another.