Teachers Earn 17% Less Than Others with College Degrees

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By Joanne Powers

Compared to others with college degrees, teachers are lagging behind in wages.

Research from the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. on the ever-growing pay gap facing American teachers shows striking differences between women and men.

Teachers currently make 17 percent less when compared to other college graduates, and an edge in benefits only makes up part of the difference. The teaching profession has been overwhelmingly women for decades, over 70 percent.

“In 1960, for women, they did fairly well, relatively,” said Sylvia Allegretto, co-chair of the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics at the University of California-Berkeley. “They had a 15 percent pay premium. But over time, that has eroded, and by 2015 that premium became a penalty of about 14 percent. So we have an ever-growing penalty of teacher pay for women. It’s almost 25 percent less for male teachers, which may, in effect, explain why the share of female teachers in the teaching profession hasn’t really changed in decades.”

Allegretto cites several reasons contributing to the pay gap for teachers, including attacks on teachers’ unions and budget crises facing many U.S. schools. Additionally, one of the factors contributing to the nearly 30 percent swing in teacher’s pay differential for women is the result of increasing career opportunities for women since 1960:

“If you did go to college, and if you got a four-year degree, you did fairly well compared to other professional women, who had very limited options at the time,” said Allegretto. “Women were kind of a captive labor pool for the teaching profession back then. Well, now, we know, so many areas have opened up to women.  Women are excelling professionally as doctors and lawyers and accountants and economists like myself.”

“So, as we have an opening up and the opportunity cost of female students, or male students for that matter, choosing a teaching profession, teaching K through 12 becomes less desirable, not just because you have other opportunities that didn’t exist before, but because of the fact that the pay is lagging so far behind.”

One thought on “Teachers Earn 17% Less Than Others with College Degrees

  1. Teacher unions are forever finding something new to complain about.
    As mandated by collective bargaining agreements, teachers are contracted to work only 180 days a year. Someone working in the private sector who takes three weeks off a year works a total of 245 days.
    Teachers work a total of 27% less than non-teachers and get paid only 17% less…that’s a pretty good deal!!!!