Aug 22, 2022 - News

Virginia teachers have one of the biggest pay gaps in the country

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

Virginia is the third worst in the nation when it comes to the teacher pay gap, which measures teacher pay compared to other college-educated professionals.

By the numbers: Virginia teachers make 32.7% less than college-educated workers in other fields, according to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute.

  • The national average teacher pay gap is 23.5%.
  • Only Colorado and Oklahoma have a pay gap larger than Virginia’s.

Context: EPI’s report looks at weekly wages as opposed to annual salary to factor in the “‘summers off’ issue for teachers.”

Why it matters: Virginia, like most of the rest of the country, is facing a teacher shortage, and most districts in the Richmond-area will start the year with vacancies and larger class sizes.

  • Pay was one of the biggest reasons teachers have considered leaving the field, according to a January survey by the National Education Association.

Zoom in: The average annual salary for teachers in Virginia — regardless of education, tenure or district — was $58,000, compared to the national average of $65,293, according to a 2022 National Education Association report.

Of note: Teachers and other state employees will get a 10% raise over the next two years in the latest budget, and some districts have included additional teacher raises in their own budgets.

  • Chesterfield bumped starting pay for new teachers by 7.9% this year and will implement a new pay plan for existing teachers next year, per Chesterfield Observer.
  • Henrico approved a 5% increase for all county workers this year, Henrico Citizen reported.
  • Richmond approved a 3% salary increase for teachers this year, WWBT reported.

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, noting that the 2021 teacher gap penalty is the largest in the 18-year history of the study.

  • College graduates who don't teach saw wages increase $445 per week, adjusted for inflation.

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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