Aug 18, 2022 - News

Arizona teachers make 32% less than other college grads in the state

Teacher pay gap, by state
Reproduced from EPI; Map: Axios Visuals

Arizona teachers made about 32% less than comparable college-educated workers in the state last year, according to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

  • Only Colorado, Oklahoma and Virginia had bigger teacher pay gaps.

Why it matters: Arizona is facing an extreme teacher shortage, which has led to larger class sizes and less-experienced educators.

  • Low pay is one of the main reasons teachers leave the field and fewer people pursue it.

Of note: The state has allocated more money to classrooms in recent years, but many districts have not passed along all of those dollars to teachers, instead paying for building maintenance or other student support services.

What they're saying: EPI, which advocates for fair pay for low- and middle-income workers, said raising teacher pay is "necessary to improve educational outcomes and foster future economic stability of workers, their families, and communities."

Zoom out: On the national level, inflation-adjusted wages for teachers have remained essentially flat since 1996, increasing just $29 a week (in 2021 dollars), the institute found.

  • College graduates who don't teach saw wages increase $445 in the same period.

Yes, but: Teachers typically receive better retirement benefits than private-sector employers, offsetting some of the wage disparity.

  • Still, U.S. teachers' total compensation, including benefits, was more than 14% lower than their non-teaching peers.

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