Failure to Shore Up State Budgets May Hit Women’s Wallets Especially Hard | Best States

By June Carbone, Nancy Levit and Naomi Cahn

Photos: States Pause Reopening

A man rides his skate in Venice beach, California, on July 14, 2020. - California's Governor Gavin Newsom announced a significant rollback of the state's reopening plan on July 13, 2020 as coronavirus cases soared across America's richest and most populous state. (Photo by Apu GOMES / AFP) (Photo by APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images)

We study families, employment, corporations – and gender. We are tracking how the coronavirus pandemic is underscoring the disproportionate financial burden women bear when states slash their budgets in times of recession.

We are examining this issue and others more deeply in a book we are writing called “Shafted: The Fate of Women in a Winner-Take-All World.” It explores the jobs women do from public schools to Walmart or hedge funds and demonstrates that the forces that have produced a highly unequal economy have undermined women’s well-being.

What we’ve found so far is that women in almost every field have lagged behind men in pay, promotions and leadership opportunities. And in K-12 schools, this issue can appear starkly.

Historically, the federal government has implemented policies aimed at keeping the economy afloat during recessions.

Nationwide, education spending averages about

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Failure to shore up state budgets may hit women’s wallets especially hard

<span class="caption">Teachers organize their socially distanced students at Weaver Elementary School in Rossmoor, California.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/kindergarten-and-tk-teachers-organize-their-students-on-the-news-photo/1271437757" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Jeff Gritchen/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images">Jeff Gritchen/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images</a></span>
Teachers organize their socially distanced students at Weaver Elementary School in Rossmoor, California. Jeff Gritchen/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

States are seeing enormous budget shortfalls because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the consequences for teachers and other public school employees could be dire. At least 640,000 education jobs in state and local government vanished between February and August 2020.

The states, which provide an average of about 47% of U.S. public school funding, are cutting school spending because their tax revenue is declining and they have no easy recourse to balance their budgets; unlike the federal government, states can’t just print money.

Negotiations continue around another pandemic relief bill, which would include money for states to spend on public education. But lawmakers have passed no measures since May, when the House of Representatives passed a US$3 trillion coronavirus relief bill that stalled in the Senate.

We study families,

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