At a time when regional teacher shortages and high turnover rates are rife in school systems, a new report by the Economic Policy Institute may offer some explanation: The gap between U.S. teachers’ pay and that of comparable workers is greater than ever before.
The average annual U.S. teacher salary in 2015 was $57,200 for high school teachers and $54,550 for elementary teachers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Compensation varies by state. But EPI’s long-term analysis shows that teachers earn lower wages than all other comparable workers (defined as those with the same education and experience), and the pay gap has grown significantly over the past few decades.
For all public school teachers, regardless of experience, age, or gender, the relative wage gap was at a record minus-17 percent in 2015, according to the study. To put that in perspective, the gap was less than minus-2 percent in the early 1990s. The average weekly salary, adjusted for inflation, also decreased by $30 from 1996 to 2015.
A version of this article appeared in the August 24, 2016 edition of Education Week as Educators’ Pay