Report shows PA teachers underpaid

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Report shows PA teachers underpaid

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The Economic Policy Institute released a research paper Feb. 15 showing that Pennsylvania educators’ weekly wages are 12 percent lower than comparable professionals in the state, and that this wage gap is likely contributing to Pennsylvania’s teacher shortage.

The report also indicated that, if teacher compensation continues to decline, the teacher shortage will worsen.

“Making sure that the dedicated men and women who work in Pennsylvania’s public schools are compensated appropriately for their experience and expertise is not only a matter of basic fairness, it’s also good public policy,” said PSEA President Dolores McCracken.

The EPI report’s key findings include:

  • Pennsylvania public school teachers are undercompensated relative to other full-time workers with similar education and skills. Their weekly wages are 12.1 percent lower than the wages of comparable full-time employees in Pennsylvania, and their weekly compensation (including both wages and benefits) is 6.8 percent lower.
  • Nationally, teacher union membership results, on average, in 5.1 percent higher wages and 5.4 percent higher total compensation for its members when compared with the compensation of public school teachers who are not union members.
  • The research suggests a correlation between compensation and the ability to attract and retain teachers.
  • If teacher compensation decreases even further in Pennsylvania, the teacher shortage will likely grow worse.

“We’ve seen a dramatic drop in the number of students pursuing teaching degrees and in the number of teaching certificates issued,” McCracken said. “If we’re going to attract people to spend their careers in our public schools, we need to be sure they’re paid what they deserve. That’s good for the teaching profession, for our public schools, and for the kids who learn there.”

Read the full report.

EPI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank created in 1986 to include the needs of low- and middle-income workers in economic policy discussions. EPI conducts research and analysis on the economic status of working America and proposes public policies that protect and improve the economic conditions of low- and middle-income workers.

The author of the report, Jeffrey Keefe, is Professor Emeritus of Labor and Employment Relations at the School of Management and Labor Relations, Rutgers University, where he has conducted research on labor markets, human resources, and labor-management relations to inform policy. He earned his Ph.D. at Cornell University.