The Teacher Pay Penalty Hit a New High in 2021

May 05, 2023

See 2022 report authored by Sylvia Allegretto on original site. 

Over the last 18 years, EPI has closely tracked trends in teacher pay. Over these nearly two decades, a picture of increasingly alarming trends has emerged.1 Simply put, teachers are paid less (in weekly wages and total compensation) than their nonteacher college-educated counterparts, and the situation has worsened considerably over time.

Prior to the pandemic, the long-trending erosion in the relative wages and total compensation of teachers was already a serious concern. The financial penalty that teachers face discourages college students from entering the teaching profession and makes it difficult for school districts to keep current teachers in the classroom. Trends in teacher pay coupled with pandemic challenges may exacerbate annual shortages of regular and substitute teachers.2

Providing teachers with compensation commensurate with that of other similarly educated professionals is not simply a matter of fairness but is necessary to improve educational outcomes and foster future economic stability of workers, their families, and communities across the U.S. We explain in greater detail why teacher pay and compensation is so important in a prior report (Allegretto and Mishel 2019). In this analysis, we add two more years, 2020 and 2021, to our long-running series.

Read the full report published at Economic Policy Institute here.

An updated version of this report, including data through 2022 and jointly authored by EPI and CEPR, will be released later this year.

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