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More People Working In Public Schools Since Claims Of Shortages Began

In Michigan, the most recent claims of a statewide teacher shortage can be traced back to the 2016-17 school year. That's when a chorus of public school officials and media news sites started the narrative there was a shortage of teachers and other positions.

And yet the most recent official figures for overall employment by Michigan school districts show larger payrolls and fewer students than when the original claims of a shortage started.

From 2016-17 to 2020-21, total employment in Michigan’s public schools has increased from 319,829 to 338,078, a 5.7% increase in headcounts over that four-year period. At the same time, enrollment has declined 6.1%, from 1,532,335 students in 2016-17 to 1,437,612 in 2020-21.

The staffing data provided by the state of Michigan includes administrators, teachers, substitute teachers, paraprofessionals and teachers aides and non-instructional positions.

There has been a leveling off of employment in the last few years. Total employment increased to a peak of 348,793 people in 2019-20 and then dropped to 338,078 in 2020-21. The number of "teachers" tracked by the state of Michigan has increased every year since 2016-17. There were 98,481 teachers in 2016-17 and 110,788 in 2020-21. However, the state's definition of "teacher" includes positions such as counselors, nurses, social workers and therapists.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.