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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Thousands of student services workers have seen their jobs eliminated as in-person services have been replaced by less comprehensive virtual support.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.