Teacher Salaries in Utah
Recently, the MSM has been beating the Utah-teachers-aren't-getting-paid-enough drum. Before taxpayers take the MSM's arguments hook, line, and sinker, they should look at some of the facts that the MSM doesn't want you to know.
How do wages in Utah compare to other states?
According to the 2006 Economic Report to the Governor (page 51), Utah average annual pay is about 81% of the national average. This is an average wage for all non-agricultural workers and is NOT a per capita wage (which would include non-wage earning children).
According to the National Education Association's Rankings & Estimates (November 2006, page 19, chart C-12), Utah teachers on average earn 82.8% of the national average.
Notice any similarities? It's no surprise that Utah teachers earn about 83% of what teachers nationally earn while Utah workers as whole earn about 81% of the national average (we've heard reports that the percentage for Utah workers has increased by a couple of percentage points). If Utah workers earned 100% of the national average, they would be paying more taxes which would allow the state and school districts to pay teachers what teachers in other states earn. In other words, Utah teachers make less than their counterparts in other states because Utah accountants, engineers, plumbers, and electricians make less than their counterparts in other states.
But wait, there's more: benefits
Utah state and local government employees receive a very generous retirement benefit. Utah is one of a very small group of states where state and local government employees (including public school teachers) don't have to pay into the retirement system. With the exception of a small group of older employees, state/local government employee pensions are funded 100% by taxpayers.
According the Census Bureau's Public Education Finances 2004 (March 2006, page 6), Utah taxpayers spent 37.44 cents on teacher benefits (including retirement) for every $1.00 of teacher salaries. The national average was $29.07 cents per $1.00 of teacher salaries.
After adjusting for benefits, Utah teachers' total compensation is 88% of the national average.
Can we close the gap?
Even though Utah teachers, compared to their national counterparts, earn what Utah workers in general earn compared to their national counterparts and even though Utah teachers receive better benefits than their national counterparts, Utahns still have an opportunity to pay teachers more.
We'll discuss this in a future post.