Education International
Education International

USA: teacher salaries lag behind inflation

published 7 December 2005 updated 6 June 2018

EI affiliates in the United States of America, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA), both denounce the fact that teacher salaries are lagging behind rising inflation rates.

According to the National Education Association's (NEA) update to the annual report titled, "Rankings and Estimates: Rankings of the States 2004 and Estimates of School Statistics 2005", inflation increased 3.1 percent over the past year, while teacher salaries increased by only 2.3 percent. For the first time since the 1999-2000 school year, the average teacher salary failed to keep up with inflation, according to the American Federation of Teachers’ (AFT) latest salary survey. The survey also reports that, over the last 10 years, compensation for teachers increased at a far slower rate than salaries for other professionals. Teachers gained just 18 cents for every new dollar earned by workers in the private sector. Reg Weaver, NEA's President, expressed concern over the rate of inflation rising faster than increases in teachers' salaries, as school districts across the country struggle to attract and retain teachers in the profession. "Without a firm commitment to raising teacher salaries, our schools will continue to have difficulty recruiting and retaining diversified teaching staffs that are prepared to meet the educational needs of our public school children," he said. "Current salaries fail to reflect the professional qualifications, preparation and challenges that teachers must meet every day in the classroom," said AFT President Edward J. McElroy. "At the very least, teachers’ pay should be a measure of their educational backgrounds and the demands of their jobs. Teachers, like all workers, deserve a salary that enables them to comfortably support themselves and their families." While there continues to be a wide gap between teacher salary growth and salaries in other professions that require similar educational backgrounds, the low rate of increase of teacher salaries to match rising inflation rate, or even the decrease of teacher salaries in some states, only serves to complicate the difficulties the country already face in attracting and retaining qualified teaching professionals.