NEA’s annual reports on educator pay, which provide data covering everything from the average teacher salary to state spending on students, show that the current educator shortage—when coupled with other factors such as the pandemic and the chronic underfunding of public education—is real.
And, unless we reverse course and start treating educators and the professions they represent with respect, it will have a direct impact on students.
The four NEA reports are:
- Rankings and Estimates provides a wide array of school funding statistics and includes the average teacher salary by state and nationally.
- Teacher Salary Benchmark Report provides information from nearly 12,000 local school districts on starting teacher salaries and salaries at other points of the teaching career continuum.
- ESP Earnings Report offers a breakdown of educational support professional (ESP) earnings for K-12 and higher education.
- Higher Education Faculty Salary Analysis looks at faculty and graduate assistant salaries at the national, state, and institutional level.
Highlights from this year’s reports, which include national and state-by-state averages, include:
- For 2020-2021, the average salary for public school teachers was $65,293, an increase of 1.8% over 2019-2020.
- Adjusting for inflation, the average teacher salary declined by 3.8% over the past decade.
- The average teacher salary for 2021‒2022 is projected to increase by 1.8% over 2020‒2021, from $65,293 to $66,432.
- The average starting teacher salary for 2020-2021 was $41,770, an increase of 1.4% over 2019-2020.
- When adjusted for inflation, this represents a 4% decrease from 2019-2020, undoing all the gains made over the previous two years.
Teacher Pay Gap
The gap in pay between teachers and their nonteacher counterparts grew to a record 23.5% in 2021, according to a new Economic Policy Institute report. This gap in pay, known as the teacher pay penalty, has been worsening over time. This hurts students in public schools by undermining teacher retention and recruitment, a problem that’s been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Teacher pay has been relatively flat for 25 years, with weekly wages up barely $30 over that time period. Teacher weekly wages in 2021 were $1,348, compared with $2,009 for other college grads.
- The gap between teachers’ weekly pay and pay for nonteachers with similar characteristics hit a record high of 23.5% in 2021, up from 6.1% in 1996.
- Benefits such as insurance and retirement plans don’t offset the growing penalty. Even when these are accounted for, the teacher total compensation penalty was still 14.2%, up from 2.7% in 1993.
- In more than half of U.S. states, the pay gap is 20% or higher. Colorado is at the back of the line with a staggering 35.9% penalty.
- For 2020-21, K-12 ESPs working full time (at least 30 hours per week) earned an average of $32,837. During the same school year, higher education ESP working full time earned an average of $44,225.
- 13.7% of K-12 ESPs working full time earned less than $15,000, and 27.8% earned between $15,000 and $24,999. Within higher education, 17.4 percent earn less than $25,000, and 7.5 percent earn less than $15,000.
- The average salary for ESP has risen from $30,819 in 2011-12 to $35,124 in 2020-21. When adjusted for inflation, the earnings for ESP in 2012 dollars has fallen from $30,819 to $30,279.
Higher Education Salaries
- The average salary for full-time faculty on 9/10-month contracts was $91,916 in 2020-2021, a 1.3% increase over 2019-2020. The average salary was slightly higher for faculty at public, four-year institutions ($94,444) and much lower for those at public, two-year institutions ($72,421).
- Adjusting for inflation, faculty lost $1,239 in purchasing power from the prior year.
- In 2020-21, women earned 90 cents to every dollar earned by men in public institutions and 87 cents in private institutions.
- In 2020-2021, the faculty of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) earned $24,000 less, on average, than their colleagues at other institutions, or 74 cents to the dollar.
Students and Teachers
- In fall 2020, U.S. public schools enrolled 48,847,268 students, a decrease of 2.7 percent from fall 2019. From 2020-2021 to 2021-2022, enrollment is expected to increase by an estimated 0.2%..
- U.S. public schools employed 3,192,309 teachers in 2020‒2021. The number of teachers is expected to increase slightly by 0.1 percent from 2020-2021 to 2021-22.
Expenditures Per Student
- The national average per-student expenditure in 2020‒2021 based on fall enrollment was $14,360, a gain of 5.0 percent from 2019‒2020.
- Per-student expenditure is projected to increase by 4.4 percent to $14,991 in 2021‒2022.