How does teacher pay compare to other professions?

October 29, 2018

The teacher pay penalty has hit a new high: Trends in the teacher wage and compensation gaps through 2017

Given that evidence clearly shows teachers as having the single greatest school-based impact on student learning, it becomes crucial that schools recruit and retain high quality teachers.  A key component to this involves teacher wage and benefit packages.   This study concludes that teacher compensation is falling further and further behind that of comparable career opportunities each year.  One metric that can be used to study this issue over time is “relative teacher pay”—teacher pay compared with that of other career opportunities for potential and current teachers.  This is referred to as the “teacher wage penalty” which calculates wage gaps as a percentage of difference.  The study concludes:  The teacher pay penalty has been steadily worsening over the last two decades, increasing from a -1.8% wage gap in 1994 to a wage gap of -18.7% in 2017.  While weekly wages for comparable jobs increased from $ 1,339 to $ 1,476 over this period of time, teacher weekly wages actually decreased $ 27 from $ 1,164 to $ 1,137.  This gap varies significantly between the genders (-15.6% for women and -26.8% for men), across states (from a .3.1% for Wyoming to -36.4% Arizona).  The study also downplays the impact of the recent recession on this trend, highlighting the impact of state government decisions on reducing education funding.

 Citation:  Allegretto, S.& Mishel, L. (2018). The teacher pay penalty has hit a new high: Trends in the teacher wage and compensation gaps through 2017. Washington DC: Economic Policy Institute.

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