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The teacher pay gap: how a promising career for women lost its shine

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Average teacher income has fallen since 2000, lagging well behind other college graduates pay but unions make a difference

Teachers salaries arent just stagnating, theyre declining, according to data from the National Education Association. Here are three charts that show how its becoming harder for US teachers to cover their costs of living.

1. Especially tough for teachers in Indiana and Colorado

Nationally, teachers salaries have fallen by 0.5% since 2000 but that average hides huge differences across the country. In Indiana, teachers salaries have fallen by 16% over that period; in Colorado, its 15%. At the other extreme, teachers salaries have risen 21% in North Dakota since 2000.

Teacher salaries by state

2. Female, senior teachers the hardest hit

When researchers at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) looked deeper at these trends, they found that female, senior teachers had been most affected by declining wages. In 1996, teachers in this group earned 8% more than similarly qualified females in other professions. By 2015, that had become a wage penalty, as female, senior teachers earned 14% less than their peers in other jobs. The institute flags this as a particular concern given that these employees are some of the most experienced in the profession and are having to delay retirement as a result of falling wages.

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3. Teachers make a third less than other college graduates

There isnt a single state in the US where teachers make the same amount as other college graduates. And the teacher pay gap has widened. By 2015, teachers could expect to earn 23% less per week than other college graduates, a gap that amounts to a loss of $323 per week. Thats a big issue for hiring, according to the economist Sylvia Allegretto, who told Jenny Abamu in an interview for EdSurge: Why would you want to be a teacher when you know teacher pay is actually declining over time? It means our best and our brightest are probably not going to want to be teachers in this country.

The teacher pay gap

4. Being in a union still pays off

Teachers are more likely than the average US employee to be members of a union and that membership still seems to be having some effect. The EPI found that over the period from 1996 to 2015, teachers who were able to collectively bargain as part of a union had, on average, a wage gap with other public sector employees that was seven percentage points lower than teachers who were not part of a union.

Teachers in a union have a smaller wage gap

Overall, these trends mean that it is becoming harder to recruit teachers and keep them teaching. Economists warn that cant be good for the future of education in America.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

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