These 15 Cities Have the Largest Teacher Pay Gaps

Teacher in a face mask disinfecting student desks
Halfpoint / Shutterstock.com

This story originally appeared on Smartest Dollar.

With fall nearly here, schools across the country are solidifying their reopening plans amidst the pandemic.

Teachers are becoming the new frontline workers, and with the virus resurging in many communities, a majority of teachers are worried about exposure to COVID-19 while on the job.

Nationally, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that median annual earnings for teachers is just over $59,000, while according to data from the Census Bureau, median earnings for full-time bachelor’s degree holders is $70,000. Teacher pay is lagging behind many other professions, and now teachers face new risks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In real terms, teacher pay has changed little in the last 30 years. In 1988, the average public teacher’s salary was $60,529 in constant 2017-2018 dollars, slightly higher than what teachers make today. Nationally, teachers earn 15.7% less than all full-time workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Teacher pay varies significantly by location, with teachers in some cities and states earning far more or less on average than others. At the state level, Arizona and Oklahoma have the largest teacher pay gaps in the country, with teachers earning 33.5% and 29.1% less than all full-time bachelor’s degree holders, respectively. At the other end of the spectrum, teachers in Rhode Island and New York tend to earn more than all full-time college-educated workers.

To find the metropolitan areas with the largest teacher pay gap, researchers at Smartest Dollar, a review website for insurance and financial services, analyzed the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. To improve relevance, only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 people were included in the analysis. Additionally, metro areas were grouped into the following cohorts based on population size:

  • Small metros: 100,000-349,999
  • Midsize metros: 350,000-999,999
  • Large metros: more than 1 million

Here are the metropolitan areas with the largest teacher pay gap.

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