The most important chart when thinking about the economies under George W. Bush and Barack Obama can be seen above. It compares the first-term job numbers of the two Presidents. Both of them endured recessions at the start of their terms, though Obama’s was bigger. But the biggest difference comes in the public jobs numbers. The parabolic arc on private-sector jobs is broadly similar, although Obama’s are better. But the difference on public-sector jobs is intense. Under Bush, the public sector grew markedly. Under Obama it has shrunk considerably. If we saw Bush-era gains in the public sector during the last four years, the unemployment rate would be a full point lower.

An example of this can be seen in the layoffs of teachers. Joe Weisenthal first caught that over 100,000 teaching jobs have been cut in the last year. It’s not that parents no longer demand teachers for their children, it’s that state government cutbacks have led to this specific job loss, and the federal government has not taken up the slack since 2010. If you go back to June 2008, teacher jobs have fallen by 300,000.

Such cuts obviously have perilous effects for the nation’s education system and long-term economic health, but it hurts the economy in the short-term too. Teachers are disproportionately women, so the cuts affect a subset of worker that already faces significant disadvantages in the American workplace, and these losses no doubt played a role in the recession’s out-sized impact on female workers.

The quote alludes to it, but this also reduces American competitiveness over time. Right-wing education types like to discount the impact of class size and more intensive learning environments for students, but enough studies have shown that larger class sizes have a negative impact on student achievement that we can see the mass layoffs of teachers – or simply the lack of hiring, as older teachers retire while their benefits are still intact – as hurting the US’ economic advantages. This is where the phrase “eating our seed corn” comes in – defunding investments like education have dramatic consequences in the future.

This, by the way, reflects the conservative model for economic growth. It says that public-sector jobs “crowd out” private-sector entrepreneurship, and that we should reduce spending – and therefore public employee jobs – while encouraging the private sector to grow. This is what that looks like.

And next time you hear about the iron fist of the teacher’s unions keeping all these “unqualified” teachers employed, show them this post.