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Wage Gap Between Teachers and Professionals With Similar Education Reaches All-Time High

Wage Gap Between Teachers and Professionals with Similar Education Reaches All-Time High

A new report from the Economic Policy Institute has found that last year saw the highest wage gap between teachers and professionals with similar education.

According to the report, “[i]n 2015, public school teachers’ weekly wages were 17.0 percent lower than those of comparable workers—compared with just 1.8 percent lower in 1994.”

When factoring in both wages and compensation, teachers still rank 11. percent under similarly educated professionals.

The Economic Policy has been documenting trends in teacher pay for over a decade, calling its general findings a look into the “relative erosion of teacher pay.”

”In 1960, female teachers enjoyed a wage premium compared with other college graduates. By the early 1980s, the teacher premium became a penalty, and the female teacher pay gap post-1996 has widened considerably,” the paper says.

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.

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.

Interestingly enough, the paper found that the wage gap negatively affects males more than it does females. The paper speculates that this is part of the reason why teaching is a female-dominated profession year after year.

"The large negative wage gap for male teachers likely is a key reason why the gender mix of teachers has not changed much over time."

The paper found that the practice of collective bargaining is capable of mitigating against falling pay.

"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.

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.

The paper highlights the importance of improving teacher pay to both recruit new people into the profession and retain them after they enter.

"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.

Read The Teacher Pay Gap is Wider than Ever in its entirety here.

Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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