Press Releases | Education

News from EPI New Jersey public teachers face an almost 17 percent pay penalty

A new paper by EPI Research Associate Jeffrey Keefe finds that New Jersey’s public teachers are undercompensated, relative to similar workers in New Jersey.

In New Jersey public school teachers are underpaid, not overpaid, Keefe compares public teachers in New Jersey with full-time workers, controlling for factors like education, experience, gender, and ethnicity. He finds that public school teachers earn 16.8 percent less in weekly wages and 12.5 percent less in weekly total compensation than other full-time workers in New Jersey.

“Politicians like Governor Chris Christie have no right to use public teachers as punching bags,” said Keefe. “Research shows that teachers are underpaid even with high experience and education levels. Strengthening teachers’ unions is the most effective way to ensure teachers are paid adequately.”

Additionally, Keefe finds that the gender wage gap is lower among public school teachers. Female teachers are paid 5.4 percent less than their male counterparts, whereas a 22.1 percent gender wage gap persists among other full-time workers in New Jersey. The racial wage gap is also lower among public school teachers in New Jersey than among other full-time workers. Black and Hispanic teachers, respectively, earn 6.1 percent and 1.7 percent less than white teachers, but 13.8 percent and 21.4 percent less among other full-time workers in New Jersey.

Lastly, Keefe highlights the economic benefit that union membership provides teachers in the United States. Teacher union membership on average results in 13.5 percent higher total compensation for union members compared to non-union public school teachers.