‘Can’t pay their bills with love’: In many teaching jobs, teachers’ salaries can’t cover rent

Source: Erin Richards and Matt Wynn, USA TODAY, June 5, 2019

New teachers can’t afford median rent almost anywhere. Our city-by-city analysis validates a theme in teacher strikes. But that’s not the full story.

Related:
Low relative pay and high incidence of moonlighting play a role in the teacher shortage, particularly in high-poverty schools
The third report in “The Perfect Storm in the Teacher Labor Market” series
Source: Emma García and Elaine Weiss, Economic Policy Institute, May 9, 2019

What this series finds:
The teacher shortage is real, large and growing, and worse than we thought. When indicators of teacher quality (certification, relevant training, experience, etc.) are taken into account, the shortage is even more acute than currently estimated, with high-poverty schools suffering the most from the shortage of credentialed teachers.

What this report finds:
The perceived financial hardships in teaching are real. This report adds to the compelling evidence in Sylvia Allegretto and Larry Mishel’s recent research showing that teachers are paid a lot less than other comparable college graduates. After accounting for education, experience, and other factors known to affect earnings, teachers’ weekly wages in 2018 were 21.4 percent lower than their nonteaching peers. In 1996 that weekly wage penalty was 6.3 percent. Our report identifies other indicators that teacher pay is too low and declining. For example, in the 2015–2016 school year, 59.0 percent of teachers took on additional paid work either in the school system or outside of it—up from 55.6 percent in the 2011–2012 school year. A majority of moonlighters (44.1 percent) were taking on second jobs within the school system, such as coaching, student activity sponsorship, mentoring other teachers, or teaching evening classes; 18.2 percent were working outside of the school system; and 5.7 percent were receiving compensation based on student performance. For these teachers, moonlighting makes up a substantial 7.0 percent share of their combined base salary and extra income. Financial stress is greater for teachers in high-poverty schools. Relative to teachers in low-poverty schools, teachers in high-poverty schools are paid less ($53,300 vs. $58,900), receive a smaller amount from moonlighting ($4,000 vs. $4,300), and the moonlighting that they do is less likely to involve paid extracurricular or additional activities for the school system that generate extra pay but also help them grow professionally as teachers (data are for 2015–2016). Data suggest a relationship between low salaries and quitting. Teachers who ended up quitting before the 2012–2013 school year had lower base salaries ($50,800 vs. $53,300) and were more likely to be supplementing their base pay with work outside the school system in the year before they quit (18.4 percent vs. 16.3 percent).