Teachers' Wage Gap Growing:
A Review of How
Does Teacher Pay Compare?
The wage gap between teachers and workers in fields requiring
similar skills is widening. So concludes The Economic Policy
Institute (EPI) in its new book, How Does Teacher Pay Compare?
Methodological Challenges and Answers by Sylvia A. Allegretto,
Sean P. Corcoran and Lawrence Mishel.
Teachers earn appreciably less per
week than do comparable professionals, including accountants,
registered nurses, computer programmers and personnel officers.
According to the EPI study, "Several
types of analyses show that teachers earn significantly less
than comparable workers and this wage disadvantage has grown
considerably over the last ten years. Since 1993, female teacher
wages have fallen behind 13 percent and male teacher wages
Several recent analyses using flawed data in the relatively
new Bureau of Labor Statistics' National Compensation Survey
(NCS) have claimed not only that the hourly wages of teachers
are equivalent to those of other similar professionals, but
also that when the benefits teachers receive are factored in
teachers were actually well paid.
Not so, says the EPI study. Comparisons of hourly wages in
the NCS are inappropriate because work time measurement for
professionals with regular year-round schedules is inconsistent
with the measurement of teachers' work time. Moreover, teachers'
health and pension benefits, while a bit better than those
of other professionals, only lower the teacher wage disadvantage
by 1.5 percent-from, for example, 14 percent to 12.5 percent.
Also, teacher benefits have not improved relative to other
professionals since 1994 (the first year for which data are
available), indicating that the erosion of teachers' relative
wages has not been offset by improved benefits.
The Economic Policy Institute was
founded in 1986 by a group of leading economic policy experts
including The Honorable Robert Reich, the former U. S. Secretary
of Labor, now a Brandeis University professor and economist
Lester Thurow of MIT's Sloan School of Management. Its focus
is the economic condition of low and middle class Americans
and their families. They believe it is important "that
people who work for a living have a voice in the economic
EPI does research and conducts outreach and education in five
major fields: Living standards/labor markets; Government and
the economy; Globalization and Trade; Education, and Retirement
They have recently published two other books on education. Smart
Money-Education and Economic Development by William Schweke-why
the United States' investment in education will pay huge
dividends and Class and Schools by Richard Rothstein,
co-published with Teachers College, Columbia University-why
the increased use of testing and other reforms at the school
level by federal and state officials is not narrowing the
achievement gap between black and white students.#
For further information and to order books see The Economic
Policy Institute's website at www.epinet.org.