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Report: Colleges and Universities Have Cut 650,000 Jobs Since February of 2020

Report: Colleges and Universities Have Cut 650,000 Jobs Since February of 2020

“Many of these jobs will never return as campuses struggle to identify efficiencies in the face of declining enrollment.”

This story is from February of this year, but I just noticed it now. These numbers are staggering.

Inside Higher Ed reports:

650,000 Colleagues Have Lost Their Jobs

Earlier this month, the Department of Labor released an astounding job loss report that measures the tragic impact of COVID-19 on American colleges and universities. The report, which received very little public attention, concluded that in the higher education sector, colleges and universities have cut 650,000 jobs, a 13 percent workforce reduction, since February of last year. Let that sink in: 650,000 of our former colleagues have lost their jobs. This job loss number tracks very closely the estimated average 14 percent decline in institutional revenue.

The Labor Department report does not indicate the types of jobs that have been cut, but those of us who work in higher education do not need a report to tell us what is happening. Thousands of vulnerable food service workers and custodians have lost their employment as on-campus cafeterias and dorms have been shuttered.

Thousands of student services workers have seen their jobs eliminated as in-person services have been replaced by less comprehensive virtual support. Thousands of adjunct faculty members have seen their courses canceled and their paychecks eliminated as programs are consolidated and courses move online. Now, as the crisis deepens, even tenured faculty are on the chopping block. Many of these jobs will never return as campuses struggle to identify efficiencies in the face of declining enrollment.

The impact of these jobs cuts cannot be overestimated. In the short term, hundreds of thousands of families are having trouble making rent and mortgage payments and putting food on the table. Long term, the impact may be even more devastating. For workers in their 20s, job loss may mean a promising career in higher education is at an end as they are forced into other lines of work. For older workers, their higher education careers may well be over for good. This immense job loss is not just a statistic: it represents misery, suffering and loss of hope.


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NorthernNewYorker | May 3, 2021 at 11:22 am

While we will never know for a fact how a second Trump administration would played out, we do know that panic theater continues at a high level with this administration. How many of these academics voted for Biden? Most of them, I would guess, if past performance is anything to go by. This pandemic has stripped the masks off many things and one of them is the cachet around a college’s name. Students aren’t willing to pay $50,000/year to sit in front of their computers and be talked to by someone they can’t even see, when they can get the same experience from the local community college for $16,000. Science labs cannot be done as effectively by watching videos and using someone else’s data to write a report (I know this from trying to run them). I do notice, however, that precious few of the Diversity Commissars are out of work. Like with fat cells, an otherwise emaciated academic body will shed them last. These laid off academics are getting what they voted for at the national and state level, and if I end up following them, well, I’ve been laid off before and I will manage.

The college I retired from just laid off all their non-tenure-track faculty, who are actually their most cost-effective faculty.

At the same time, they are interviewing for a new Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, whose yearly cost including assistants would cover the cost of 5-6 of the NTT faculty.

The VP of D&I will contribute nothing to the educational mission of the college. Virtue signaling is very expensive.

I expect that 90%+ of those employees either donated to or supported the lefty panic-demic, and many of them donated to the dem party. How’s that workin’ out for ya, libs? Can they “learn to code?”

Aww, the schadenfreude, the schadenfreude!

    bear in reply to bear. | May 3, 2021 at 5:25 pm

    Maybe they can all become the social workers we need to replace the police, who they hate?

Albigensian | May 3, 2021 at 7:56 pm

I’m sure a $trillion or so in new government subsidies (“free” college for all?) would fix “higher” education’s employment losses.

    lawgrad in reply to Albigensian. | May 7, 2021 at 7:24 am

    The proposal is not across-the-board institutional support. There is targetted aid to HBCUs and community colleges.

There was no concern when pipeline employees lost their jobs, but we’re supposed to “tear up” when college instructors or government employees lose theirs.

How is this not good news???

charlesw04 | May 4, 2021 at 8:15 am

Considering that institutions of higher learning are nothing more than Marxist indoctrination centers, I see this as a positive. Marxisim does not, cannot and will not work. Unemployment is lesson #1 in the course Marxisim 101.

Who cleans the buildings? Not faculty.
Who fixes the plumbing? Not faculty.
Who replaces light bulbs? Not faculty.
Who maintains the grounds? Not faculty.
Who keeps the HVAC working? Not faculty.

Yet guess who gets cut first.

drsamherman | May 4, 2021 at 8:09 pm

I was reading on a faculty website comment thread that the particular institution was considering deep cuts to its doctoral graduate programs for lack of employment opportunities. As expected, the vast majority of the faculty were histrionically opposed, but a few reasoned that no jobs post-graduation means less demand means no one applying or paying tuition. The “Studies” areas in social sciences and humanities are prone to atrociously low scholarship standards. They would never make it a STEM field.

The college I know best has a collective bargaining agreement with its trade employees and sets faculty job protections using AAUP rules. Given COVID it underwent a serious financial retrenchment of both the academic and non-academic budgets. Capital projects were deferred (except for one already underway.) Trades staff were cut severely. Athletics staff was repurposed as ‘COVID police” to make sure there were no illegal parties that broke the behavioral compact. People were encouraged to take early retirement. It cut salaries and retirement benefits for some faculty, institute a hiring freeze and halt new discretionary spending. Almost all official travel was cancelled and study abroad programs were cancelled.

I don’t see employment levels bouncing back to pre-COVID numbers. There will be more outsourcing of trade work, Zoom will replace a lot of travel expenditures, and faculty growth will be tightly controlled.