Here’s how big higher ed job losses have been during COVID

Employment at public colleges and universities has dropped nearly 14%
By: | November 10, 2020
Many of higher ed furloughs or layoffs occurred as colleges delayed reopening or canceled in-person, and states cut funding. (GettyImages/FatCamera)Many of higher ed furloughs or layoffs occurred as colleges delayed reopening or canceled in-person, and states cut funding. (GettyImages/FatCamera)

Public education workers have been among the hardest hit by COVID job losses, with declines seen in almost every state, according to data released Tuesday.

Employment at public colleges and universities has dropped nearly 14% compared to pre-pandemic totals, according to an analysis by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Five states have seen losses exceeding 20%: Colorado, Maine, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Wyoming.

Many of these furloughs or layoffs occurred as colleges delayed reopening or canceled in-person, and states cut funding.


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Many institutions are also grappling with enrollment declines and the increased costs of COVID testing and contact tracing.

Undergraduate enrollment at public two-year colleges has fallen by more than 9% and declined slightly at public four-year institutions, according to The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

About 82% of college and university presidents anticipated hiring freezes in a July Association of American Colleges and Universities survey cited by Pew’s analysis.

“In 2021, school districts and colleges will continue to confront multiple headwinds,” the Pew report says. “Most states are projecting significant revenue shortfalls that will threaten aid to education.”


UB’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on higher ed.