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Recession Is In Session: Teacher Wages Way Down; Men, Non-Union Members, Veterans Hardest Hit

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The wage gap between teachers and professionals with the same level of education is at a record high. 

According to a study by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the average weekly wage of a pubic school teacher in 1994 was only 1.8% lower than that of comparable professionals. Last year that figure reached an astonishing 17%:

When looking at the period from 1996 to 2015, the paper found that while wages for college graduates increased, teacher pay declined by $30 per week.

[…] In a state-by-state analysis of teacher pay, the paper found that in no state does a teacher enjoy comparable pay to other college graduates. The effects of low, declining pay are felt by teachers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Experienced teachers have had to bear the brunt of this decline, according to Education World:

Although all teachers are suffering from low pay, the paper found that experienced teachers are suffering the most.

“The erosion of relative teacher wages has fallen most heavily on experienced teachers. Year after year, the most experienced teacher cohort has undergone a prolonged deterioration in relative wages throughout the entirety of our analysis,” the paper says.

Male and non-unionized teachers have taken a bigger hit than their female and unionized counterparts:

“Over 1996–2015, the wage penalty of female teachers with collective bargaining was 7.5 percent, less than half the 18.8 percent wage penalty experienced by female teachers lacking collective bargaining.”

In other words, unionized teachers experience a smaller wage gap than non-unionized ones.

The paper points out that more competitive salaries are necessary to attract and retain good teachers:

“If the policy goal is to improve the quality of the entire teaching workforce, then raising the level of teacher compensation, including wages, is critical to recruiting and retaining higher-quality teachers,” the paper concludes.


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