Research

GRAPH: Where Do US Teacher Salaries Really Go the Furthest?

By Michael Winters     Jun 1, 2017

GRAPH: Where Do US Teacher Salaries Really Go the Furthest?

Want to make your teacher salary go as far as possible? Go Midwest, young Padawan. And stay far, far away from Hawaii.

The great state of Michigan tops the list of states where teachers can enjoy the highest average salary—adjusted for cost of living. That adjustment is important, because as any resident of the San Francisco Bay Area who have friends elsewhere (like this correspondent) can tell you, a dollar does not go equally far everywhere in the United States.

Illinois, Pennsylvania, Wyoming and Ohio round out the top five states. Teacher salaries go the least far in Hawaii, South Dakota, and Maine.

States where teaching salaries go furthest States where teacher salaries go least
Michigan Hawaii
Illinois South Dakota
Pennsylvania Maine
Wyoming Arizona
Ohio West Virginia

To create our rankings, EdSurge first compiled data for the 2014-15 school year provided by the National Center for Education Statistics. This data estimates the average salary of public school educators in all 50 states. According to this information, New York, Massachusetts and California—all places that are more expensive to live in—float to the top.

See full size image

To get information on the cost of living, we looked at data provided by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, which offers a look at how states compare to one another. (An index ranking of 100 represents the average cost of living across the country; states that rank below 100 are less expensive than the national average; states above 100 are more expensive.) Unsurprisingly, many of the states that pay teachers the most also lead the list below.

See full size image

Combining the two data sets, we can adjust the raw salary data to reflect a state’s cost of living, giving us an adjusted average salary that better represents how much purchasing power teachers really have. Using this method, California drops from 4th place to 25th. Vermont and Hawaii drop 31 and 33 places, respectively. Indiana, however, improves from 31st in raw salary to 8th in adjusted salary.

See full size image

The list of states where teacher salaries go furthest has remained stable in the two years since EdSurge last ran this analysis. Michigan has retained its top spot. Wyoming (number four) is the only new entrant to the top five, replacing Massachusetts, which is now 12th. Texas moved up sixteen spots on the list, possibly on the strength of a rebounding state budget and competition for teachers. Meanwhile, Louisiana and Idaho both fell eighteen places on the list. (Click on the table headers below to sort the data.)

Of course, data with lots of averages also merits lots of caveats. This data accounts only for public school teachers, and is an estimate. Additionally, true cost of living varies across a state; it’s more expensive to live in San Francisco than in Bakersfield, California, for example.

Even so, this data can serve as a guide to educators looking to transplant themselves this summer. It’s easy to be drawn to bigger dollar signs in a teaching job on the West or East coast, or along the beaches of Hawaii, but you may be better off on the shores of the Great Lakes.

Research

GRAPH: Where Do US Teacher Salaries Really Go the Furthest?

By Michael Winters     Jun 1, 2017

GRAPH: Where Do US Teacher Salaries Really Go the Furthest?

Want to make your teacher salary go as far as possible? Go Midwest, young Padawan. And stay far, far away from Hawaii.

The great state of Michigan tops the list of states where teachers can enjoy the highest average salary—adjusted for cost of living. That adjustment is important, because as any resident of the San Francisco Bay Area who have friends elsewhere (like this correspondent) can tell you, a dollar does not go equally far everywhere in the United States.

Illinois, Pennsylvania, Wyoming and Ohio round out the top five states. Teacher salaries go the least far in Hawaii, South Dakota, and Maine.

States where teaching salaries go furthest States where teacher salaries go least
Michigan Hawaii
Illinois South Dakota
Pennsylvania Maine
Wyoming Arizona
Ohio West Virginia

To create our rankings, EdSurge first compiled data for the 2014-15 school year provided by the National Center for Education Statistics. This data estimates the average salary of public school educators in all 50 states. According to this information, New York, Massachusetts and California—all places that are more expensive to live in—float to the top.

See full size image

To get information on the cost of living, we looked at data provided by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, which offers a look at how states compare to one another. (An index ranking of 100 represents the average cost of living across the country; states that rank below 100 are less expensive than the national average; states above 100 are more expensive.) Unsurprisingly, many of the states that pay teachers the most also lead the list below.

See full size image

Combining the two data sets, we can adjust the raw salary data to reflect a state’s cost of living, giving us an adjusted average salary that better represents how much purchasing power teachers really have. Using this method, California drops from 4th place to 25th. Vermont and Hawaii drop 31 and 33 places, respectively. Indiana, however, improves from 31st in raw salary to 8th in adjusted salary.

See full size image

The list of states where teacher salaries go furthest has remained stable in the two years since EdSurge last ran this analysis. Michigan has retained its top spot. Wyoming (number four) is the only new entrant to the top five, replacing Massachusetts, which is now 12th. Texas moved up sixteen spots on the list, possibly on the strength of a rebounding state budget and competition for teachers. Meanwhile, Louisiana and Idaho both fell eighteen places on the list. (Click on the table headers below to sort the data.)

Of course, data with lots of averages also merits lots of caveats. This data accounts only for public school teachers, and is an estimate. Additionally, true cost of living varies across a state; it’s more expensive to live in San Francisco than in Bakersfield, California, for example.

Even so, this data can serve as a guide to educators looking to transplant themselves this summer. It’s easy to be drawn to bigger dollar signs in a teaching job on the West or East coast, or along the beaches of Hawaii, but you may be better off on the shores of the Great Lakes.

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