Metropolitan Transit Authority workers arrive to clean a New York subway station. Photo: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

State and local governments across the country — which together employ nearly 20 million workers — are bracing for layoffs as they deal with the economic ramifications of the coronavirus.

The big picture: Stay-at-home orders have forced businesses to close and cut jobs, tanking state revenue from sales, personal income taxes and fees. Meanwhile, states have paid steep costs for emergency relief and for increases in social safety net programs like unemployment insurance on top of their usual services like police, mass transit and water.

  • The nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) estimates that states could rack up more than $765 billion in budget deficits over the next three years.
  • 88% of local leaders say they're preparing for painful reductions in revenue this year because of the pandemic, according to a National League of Cities survey.
  • Nearly a third of them anticipate furloughing employees, while a quarter expects layoffs.

Why it matters: Nearly two-thirds of state spending goes to education, health care and transportation, per the CBPP.

  • Localities and states shed 3% of their workforce as a result of the 2008 financial crisis, according to census data. Half of them were teachers.
  • Those public sector jobs returned slowly and still haven't rebounded to the levels they were before the recession.
  • "[W]e should expect, among other effects, to see fewer teachers in classrooms, higher tuition at public colleges and universities, stingier coverage for Medicaid enrollees and forgone infrastructure improvements," wrote former Obama administration economic adviser Matthew Fiedler in a New York Times op-ed.

The state of play: Dayton, Ohio, has already furloughed nearly 25% of its workforce, and the city is planning to cut more.

Go deeper: States face economic death spiral from coronavirus

Go deeper

Ray LaHood predicts bipartisan push to aid public transit

Axios' Ina Fried (l) and former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said he expects a bipartisan push in Congress to shore up public transportation during the coronavirus pandemic, as it did for the airlines earlier this year and is under pressure to do again.

The state of play: During an Axios virtual event, LaHood underscored that Americans are using cars, rather than public transit, during COVID-19 pandemic. Public transportation as a result has subsequently seen a massive drop in ridership and revenue along with it.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12 p.m. ET: 30,241,377 — Total deaths: 947,266— Total recoveries: 20,575,416Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12 p.m. ET: 6,681,251 — Total deaths: 197,763 — Total recoveries: 2,540,334 — Total tests: 91,546,598Map.
  3. Politics: Trump vs. his own administration on virus response.
  4. Health: Massive USPS face mask operation called off The risks of moving too fast on a vaccine.
  5. Business: Unemployment drop-off reverses course 1 million mortgage-holders fall through safety netHow the pandemic has deepened Boeing's 737 MAX crunch.
  6. Education: At least 42% of school employees are vulnerable.
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Anxious days for airline workers as mass layoffs loom

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, during a Sept. 9 protest outside the Capitol. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The clock is ticking for tens of thousands of anxious airline employees, who face mass reductions when the government's current payroll support program expires on Sept. 30.

Where it stands: Airline CEOs met Thursday with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who said President Trump would support an additional $25 billion from Congress to extend the current aid package through next March.