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New Research Finds K-12 Workforce More Stressed and Inclined To Consider a Job Change Compared to Other State and Local Employees

August 26, 2021

MissionSquare Research Institute National Poll Indicates 90% of K-12 Employees Concerned About Students Falling Behind

WASHINGTON, D.C., Aug. 26, 2021 – As schools begin to open across the nation amid growing concerns about the COVID-19 Delta variant, new research indicates that the K-12 workforce is more stressed, burnt out and anxious compared to other state and local employees. More than one-third (37%) of the K-12 workforce says that the pandemic has them considering a job change.

K-12 employees are also concerned about the impact of the pandemic on students – from falling behind in their education to experiencing problems with access to the internet and technology. Additionally, this segment of the workforce is feeling the financial pain of the pandemic more acutely than other state and local workers.

These findings are contained in a new research infographic from MissionSquare Research Institute (formerly the Center for State and Local Government Excellence at ICMA-RC). The results are based on a national survey of more than 1,200 state and local government employees fielded by Greenwald Research in May 2021. Access the infographic.

“The research reveals that the K-12 workforce has been struggling with a number of issues as the pandemic has unfolded and at higher levels than their state and local government counterparts,” said Rivka Liss-Levinson, Ph.D., Senior Research Manager at MissionSquare Research Institute.

“The overall findings are troubling given that many jurisdictions were struggling to attract and keep teachers even before the pandemic. The data tell us that educators are exhausted, working more hours and worried about their financial security. It would be highly detrimental to education if more than a third of the K-12 workforce indeed changed jobs. To head that off, it will be important for policy makers to focus on areas where teachers are satisfied and address areas of concern,” Liss-Levinson said.

The key findings are as follows:

  • The K-12 workforce is more likely than other government workers to feel stressed (52% vs. 35%), burnt out (52% vs. 34%) and anxious (34% vs. 29%).
  • K-12 employees are significantly more likely than other government workers to say that the pandemic has negatively impacted their finances (50% vs. 35%).
  • Fifty-nine percent of the K-12 workforce say the risks of working during the COVID-19 pandemic are not on par with their compensation, a sentiment that is higher than among the overall state and local workforce (43%).
  • Thirty-seven percent of K-12 employees say that working during the pandemic has made them consider changing jobs — higher than other state and local employees (27%).
  • K-12 employees are significantly more likely than other government employees to say that COVID-19 has impacted the nature of their job (83% vs. 71%) and that it has been difficult to adjust to these changes (42% vs. 22%).
  • Thirty-nine percent of K-12 employees are working more hours than before the pandemic because of extra time required for online/remote work (73%), social distancing protocols/limitations on class size (45%), and increased meetings and communications with parents/students (42%) or with other school staff (41%).
  • Ninety percent of K-12 employees are concerned about students falling behind as a result of the pandemic, with 34% extremely concerned.
  • Seventy-seven percent of K-12 employees say that internet access/speed for students learning from home has been an issue during the pandemic, whereas 69% say school technology capabilities have been an issue.
  • As of May 2021, 75% of K-12 public school employees were fully vaccinated, compared with 67% of other state and local government employees.

MissionSquare Research Institute will release the full results of the K-12 survey in September 2021.

This research follows previous polling conducted in October 2020 and May 2020 to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on public sector workers’ financial and employment outlooks and health and safety concerns. Visit slge.org/workforce for past infographics and reports.

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