Document Type




Publication Date

Spring 2019


Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press

Source Publication

Education Finance and Policy

Source ISSN



We examine the impact of the Great Recession on public education finance and employment. Five major themes emerge from our work. First, nearly 300,000 school employees lost their jobs. Second, schools that were heavily dependent financially on state governments were particularly vulnerable to the recession. Third, local revenues from the property tax actually increased during the recession, primarily because millage rates rose in response to declining property values. Fourth, inequality in school spending rose sharply during the Great Recession. We argue, however, that we need to be very cautious about this result. School spending inequality has risen steadily since 2000; the trend in inequality we see in the 2008-13 period is very similar to the trend we see in the 2000-08 period. Fifth, the federal government's efforts to shield education from some of the worst effects of the recession achieved their major goal.


Accepted version. Education Finance and Policy, Vol. 14, No. 2 (Spring 2019): 298-326. DOI.© 2019 The MIT Press Technology Partner. Used with permission.

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