SALEM, Ore. - In Oregon, the downsizing of the public sector does not mean there are fewer state employees. In fact, if you include the university system, there are more state employees now than ever before. However, that's not the case in public schools.
Idaho doesn't track teacher layoffs, but Oregon does. According to the Oregon Employment Department, there are nearly 10,000 fewer school district employees than there were just three years ago.
One teacher who got a pink slip was Ehren Schneider. He was laid off from his language arts position at Centennial High School in Gresham.
"Well it was shocking," Schneider says. "And as a grown man, I have to say at one point I was almost fighting back tears. I love teaching. Teaching is a passion of mine."
Schneider says he's been able to sub some and his wife has a full-time job. Still, he says, "It's a dramatic cutback in everything we do, because there isn't the same amount of money coming in per month."
Losing education jobs means larger class sizes. But Willamette University economics professor Jerry Gray says those laid-off teachers aren't spending as much money in their local communities.
"You pay somebody $40,000 annually, and they're going spend a big portion of that," he explains. "And that spending might create demand for other sorts of goods and services in the economy."
But Gray has this caveat: public sector jobs are paid for with taxes ... that come out of someone else's pocket. So, "There's not a net addition to the Oregon economy, though the distribution of that income is different."
In other words, employed public workers may spend part of their paycheck in ways that create other jobs. But Gray says that's only true if the people who paid the taxes that go into a public employee's paycheck would have hung onto the money instead of spending it themselves.
Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network