The Economic Impact of the PASSHE Employment Reductions

Abstract

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) comprises 14 public universities across the state. The PASSHE universities are key institutions in their respective regions. These universities give access to higher education for an overwhelmingly in-state student body and provide a major anchor of high-quality unionized and professional employment in a range of occupations. The PASSHE universities have embarked on a radical restructuring under the rubric of Chancellor Greenstein’s “System Redesign.” Large cuts in staffing, both of faculty and of professional and classified staff in good unionized jobs, constitute the core of the restructuring. The cuts, amounting to 14 percent of overall PASSHE employment, are of a magnitude equivalent to the largest private-sector plant closings and mass layoffs of the previous decade in Pennsylvania. This study documents that the cuts and their spillover effects will have a substantial negative impact on the Pennsylvania economy. The largest negative impacts in terms of job loss and revenue decline will be in the economic regions near each university that is facing job cuts. These job cuts will have their most severe impact on women. This is because women constitute large majorities of both the student body of the PASSHE universities and of the untenured faculty on staff.

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