Tag Archives: private higher education employment

Public Higher Education: Census of Governments Employment and Payroll Data for 2017

The big issue in higher education, or at least the one that has been pushed in the media, is the burden of student loans.  And the explanation for this crisis that has been advanced is the rising cost of college.  According to sources deemed reliable, while tuition has soared in private colleges and universities due to an amenities arms race and a better deal for faculty, in public higher education unwilling taxpayers are to blame.

https://hbr.org/2019/09/what-will-it-take-to-solve-the-student-loan-crisis

The roots of rising college and university costs are not difficult to identify. For the nation’s 1,600-plus public institutions, the chief culprit has been major reductions in state support; public investment in higher education has been in retreat in the states since about 1980, according to the American Council on Education. State funding and subsidies were cut by more than $7 billion between 2008 and 2018. What many call the “privatization of public higher education” has shifted most of the states’ share of instructional costs to students and their families, with disruptive results for both students and institutions.

Here is another “study” saying the same thing.

Click to access RB_512HJRB.pdf

I once believed it, but when whenever I looked at the available Census Bureau data on higher education finances, it didn’t fully support it. With the availability of state and local government employment and payroll data for the 2017 Census of Governments, I took another look.

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Census Bureau Public Employment Data: Higher Education Employment and Payroll in March 2016 and March 2006

Public elementary and secondary schools were one of the last public services state and local governments started to slash, as the consequences of Generation Greed’s future selling policies hit home after the year 2000.   State colleges and universities, revenue-producing sports excluded, were one of the first.  So one does not find additional cutbacks in public higher education employment in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut or the U.S. as a whole from March 2006 to March 2016, particularly since enrollment – and student debt to pay for college — tended to be on the rise over the those years.

One does find a drop in community college employment, generally classified as local government employment, relative to population from March 2006 to March 2016.  More recently, politicians have noticed community colleges, and started to invest in them as an alternative to the four-year colleges increasingly impoverished Americans can no longer afford.  Perhaps in the near future community colleges and vocational training will also be seen as an alternative to the last two years of high school, which fiscally collapsing and indebted state and local governments can no longer afford.

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