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4 Disturbing Facts About the Current State of Teachers’ Pay

Topics: Data & Research

The fact that teachers aren’t paid very well compared to other professionals with similar levels of training and experience is not news, but some of us are still unaware of how bad it is. The idea that “teachers are paid more than you think” is just one of the many myths about teachers’ pay that have been around for quite some time. It’s important that we understand the current landscape as clearly and accurately as possible so that we can make better decisions for the future, both individually and as a society.

teachers pay
Image Credit: blondinrikard/Flickr

Now, a new report from The Economic Policy Institute sheds some fresh light on the current state of teachers’ pay in the U.S. Let’s take a closer look at some of the key findings.

  1. The pay gap between teachers and other college grads is the largest it has been since 1979.

According to the report, in 2015, teachers’ weekly wages showed that they earned 17 percent less than other college graduates. This is the largest the gap has been in over 35 years, since 1979. Adjustments were made for factors such as age, education, gender, geographic region, etc. But, even with insurance and pensions factored into the equation, the pay gap was still 11.1 percent.

  1. The divide is worse for some teachers than it is for others.

We might expect that male teachers would endure an even greater pay gap because their non-teaching, college-educated male counterparts earn more than women in other professions. And, that assumption holds true. Male teachers can expect to make 24.5 percent less than men with college degrees earn on average. Also, folks between the ages of 35 and 44 have an above average gap to contend with as well; they earn 21.7 percent less than peers in other professions.

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  1. Union member earn more than non-union members.

As dark as the earnings picture looks for all teachers, it’s worse for non-union teachers. For these folks, the pay gap is a whopping 25.5 percent. Other reports have found similar trends for non-union vs. union workers, across industries.

  1. Fewer people are choosing teaching, and this pay gap isn’t helping things.

Despite the fact that teachers aren’t compensated financially the way they should be, many people still feel called to the profession. However, the relatively low pay rate may be discouraging some from pursuing the profession. Attracting and retaining excellent educators is critical for our schools, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult.

“This is particularly difficult at a time when the supply of teachers is constrained by high turnover rates, annual retirements of longtime teachers, and a decline in students opting for a teaching career – and when demand for teachers is rising due to rigorous national student performance standards and many locales’ mandates to shrink class sizes,” the report stated. “In light of these challenges, providing adequate wages and benefits is a crucial tool for attracting and keeping the teachers America’s children need.”

Tell Us What You Think

Do you think teachers should earn more, or is their pay rate fair and appropriate? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.


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