Teachers Salaries Battle to Keep Pace

April 8, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Teachers' salaries barely kept pace with inflation in the 1990s, increasing by only 31% compared to the wages of full-time workers, which the Department of Labor (DoL) says increased by 40% on average.

DoL figures show that elementary school teachers’ wages rose by about 38% between 1990 and 2000, while those of high school teachers rose nearly 33%. Teachers’ salaries now stand at $43,000 on average.

When inflation is worked into the equation, teachers’ salaries rose by a mere 0.5% on average over the decade, according to a report from the National Education Association (NEA), the US’s largest teachers union.

State Stats

In some states, teachers’ compensation actually fell behind inflation.
According to figures from NEA, while 13 states paid the typical teacher $45,000 or more last year, average salaries in 25 states were still less than $40,000.

Over the 2000 to 2001 school year, the states paying the highest average nominal salaries were:

  • New Jersey, which pays $53,281 on average
  • Connecticut, which pays its teachers $52,693
  • California, where teachers’ salaries are $52,480.

Yet, when taking inflation into account, wages for teachers in Connecticut failed to keep pace with the cost of living, dropping by 7.8% in real terms.

Teachers’ salaries in Maryland and Alaska also lost ground to inflation, the wages there dropping by 8.2% and 15% in real terms respectively.

Those paying the lowest nominal wages to teachers were:

  • Mississippi, where teachers are paid $31,964
  • North Dakota, where they receive $30,891
  • South Dakota, which pays $30,265.

It’s Elementary

The report follows the National Association of Elementary School Principals recently released annual wage survey, which shows that, on average:

  • elementary school principals earn about $73,000
  • middle school principals earn $78,000
  • high school principals earn just under $84,000.

The principals’ survey relies on self-reported figures from 800 school systems.