The American Federation of Teachers public employees division recently issued its annual "State Employee Compensation Survey," which determined that employees with union representation and collective bargaining rights have a significant wage advantage — 35 percent, to be exact — over those with jobs not under such agreements.
Private sector workers continue to earn more money than public sector workers in comparable jobs, and according to 2012 data, the recession continues to have an impact on state employees, whose wages are not keeping up with the rate of inflation.
The 45 jobs examined in the survey are meant to broadly represent professional, scientific and related occupations found in state governments. The average salary for these jobs in 2012 was $48,263 — an increase of just 0.2 percent from 2011’s average of $48,179.
While the purpose of the survey was to highlight compensation for state employees, there were some limitations, as total compensation would include health insurance, retirement and other benefits that were not addressed in the report. Furthermore, it is not possible to directly compare jobs in the private sector to those in the public sector, so the study’s methodology sought to adjust for these variations in an effort to provide the best comparison possible.
The average salary for a teacher in a state institution across all 50 states and the District of Columbia in 2012 was $49,920, down from $50,887 in 2011 — a decrease of $967 or 1.9 percent.
In general, salaries for all jobs surveyed were highest in the northeast and west regions, which can be attributed to heavier unionization and a higher cost of living.
The teaching profession also ranked second — after correctional officer — in jobs that benefit the most from collective bargaining, with a 52 percent difference between collective bargaining and non-collective bargaining teaching jobs in 2012.
The average minimum salary for teachers across all 50 states was $38,189, and the average maximum was $64,998.
Last August, a study showed that the U.S. ranked 22nd out of 27 countries when it came to the ratio of teachers with 15 years’ experience to the average earnings of full-time workers with a college degree. In the U.S., teachers earned less than 60 percent of the average pay for full-time college-educated workers, whereas in many other countries, teachers earn between 80 and 100 percent of the college-educated average.
In response to this issue, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has called for teacher salaries that start at $60,000 and eventually increase to $150,000 based on performance, which far exceeds current teacher pay in nearly all U.S. school districts.