Oct 2, 2023 - Economy

This one chart explains the teacher shortage

Wage gap between teachers and comparable college graduates
Data: Economic Policy Institute; Chart: Deena Zaidi/Axios Visuals

Public school teachers have long made less money than other professionals, but last year the gap hit its widest level since 1960, according to a new analysis of federal data.

Why it matters: The report from the Economic Policy Institute and the Center for Economic and Policy Research helps explain why the nationwide teacher shortage has grown so acute.

Zoom in: The immediate culprit is inflation, which eroded teachers' real pay considerably in 2022.

  • The earnings of other college grads managed to just about keep pace with price increases, writes the report's author, economist Sylvia Allegretto.
  • Public schools are less nimble when it comes to raising pay than the private sector.

Of note: Teachers typically receive better benefits than other workers (pensions!). In her analysis, Allegretto calculated that even considering the value of those benefits, teachers still earn about 17% less.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify the report was from the Economic Policy Institute and the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

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