Economic Snapshot | Education

Teacher pay falls behind that of other workers over last ten years

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Today’s Snapshot is a preview of the upcoming EPI education book, How Does Teacher Pay Compare? Methodological Challenges and Answers.

Snapshot for August 25, 2004

Teacher pay falls behind that of other workers over last ten years

Maintaining and improving teacher quality has become a broadly agreed upon priority in school reform. However, a new book by EPI, How Does Teacher Pay Compare?, shows that teachers’ weekly wages have fallen behind those of other workers with similar education and experience. This increased shortfall in teacher pay will make it more difficult for schools to maintain and improve the quality of the teaching workforce.

From 1993 to 2003 the teacher relative wage (how much a teacher earns compared to other similar workers) has declined by 13.0% for male teachers and by 12.5% for female teachers (see figure below). At the same time, teacher fringe benefits, including health insurance and pensions, did not rise faster than that of other professionals. Thus, there were no benefit increases to offset the recent erosion of teachers’ wages relative to their peers.

Decline in teacher relative weekly wage, 1993-2003

Today’s Snapshot was written by EPI president Lawrence Mishel.

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