Press Releases

News from EPI Teacher pay fell further behind in 2022: Teachers made 26.4% less than other similarly educated professionals




The pay penalty for teachers—the gap between the weekly wages of teachers and other college graduates—grew to a record 26.4% in 2022, according to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute and the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

This gap in pay—which is adjusted for education, experience, and demographic characteristics —has been worsening over time and is a significant change from the 6.1% pay penalty in 1996. The penalty hit 36.6% for men in the teaching profession in 2022, while the penalty was 21.3% for women. 

Recent high inflation has significantly reduced the average weekly wages of teachers but has had less of an effect on other college graduates. The inflation-adjusted weekly wages of public school teachers decreased by $128 from 2021 to 2022, from $1,457 to $1,329 (in 2022 dollars). In contrast, weekly wages of other college graduates stayed about the same from $2,170 to $2,167 over the same period.

The report also features state-level estimates showing that teachers are paid less than other college graduates in every state. The states with the largest teacher pay penalties include Colorado (37.4%), Arizona (33.2%), Virginia (32.1%), and Oklahoma (31.8%)—all states that had huge walkouts between 2018 and 2020 in response to low pay and other issues around public education funding. 

Although teachers tend to receive better benefits packages than other professionals do, this advantage is not large enough to offset the growing wage penalty for teachers. The total compensation penalty for teachers grew from 14.2% in 2021 to 17.0% in 2022.

“Over the past two decades, teacher pay has fallen further and further behind similarly qualified professionals. These worsening trends have become a significant and growing challenge for the teaching profession. Providing teachers with compensation commensurate with that of other similarly educated professionals is necessary to retain and attract qualified workers into the profession,” said report author Sylvia Allegretto, who is a senior economist at CEPR and research associate at EPI.