Sunday, March 18, 2018


Sean Ahern sent us this piece from nprED on teacher salaries compared state by state (and DC) but also factoring in the cost of living in the region.

If we go on salary alone, NYS teachers are number one in the country. However, if we put in the cost of living, NYS teacher salaries go from 1st in the nation to 17th. If we just did NYC, I can bet we come even lower down on the list.

Michigan, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey are the states with the highest teacher pay when factoring in the cost of living.

The bottom five are: Hawaii, Maine, South Dakota, Arizona and Utah.

Note that West Virginia and Oklahoma where teachers are rebelling are not in that bottom five if we adjust for cost of living.


Anonymous said...

NJ is a huge state. I'm sure there's a big difference in cost of living in Jersey City or towns in south jersey. In jersey city they sell the same million dollar condos as in NYC. How can a teacher afford a 2 bedroom apartment in a place like that? That's one reason they were striking. You have 2 college degrees and work every day but can't afford to live in the neighborhood you work in. Sounds like something's wrong with that picture.

RBE said...

I think you have to add in health care costs, pension payments and pension viability to get a fuller picture of compensation.

New Jersey may be higher than NY for teacher salary, but teachers are carrying heavy health care costs in NJ(as much as $16,800 a year for Jersey City teachers), they're paying approximately 7% of salary to their pension and the NJ pension system is ranked 48th for viability (it's been underfunded for years and will definitely see benefit cuts in the near and long term.)

We are DEFINITELY working MUCH harder for less money when you factor in what APPR/Danielson has done to job expectations and the little we got in the last contract for salary increases. Weingarten and Mulgrew have overseen about 73% salary increases in the time I have been a teacher but have given away the store on everything else (seniority, school funding, APPR, TDA, bathroom duty, letters in the file, etc.) In my opinion, salary increases aren't raises when they come in return for more work, fewer benefits, lost rights, etc. Add in inflation and boy have we lost ground in New York thanks to the company union at 52 Broadway.

Yet where I live, in Jersey City, teachers (who have higher salaries than New York teachers) also have really high health care costs, pension payments throughout their careers and a pension that will not likely meet promises made to employees.

Working as a teacher in New York City sucks and it sucks more every year. That said, we are fortunate that the NY state pension system is better funded and solvent than almost every other system in the nation, however. For that, I am grateful I did not become a Jersey teacher (which I thought about since I moved to NJ after a few years working in NY.)

Here's the pension info:

Here's the Jersey City health care cost link:

Harris L. said...

A quick clarification to the otherwise important comments by my friend, RBE:

NYC teachers' pensions are provided through the Teachers Retirement System of New York and not the New York State Teachers Retirement System--easily and often confused.

This is not just a matter of semantics but one of real economic consequence for New York City teachers.

There are many ways to measure the well-being of a defined benefit system and each way can be calculated differently--one of the things that makes pension accounting, much less understanding one's own pension, so damnably frustrating.

The most-accepted way to evaluate two different systems is to compare their "funded ratios." The "funded ratio" has the benefit of being somewhat meaningful to employees without accounting degrees: it measures how much of the system's contractually and constitutionally obligated retirement payments for the next 30 or so years are funded by real-life, measurable assets ("in the bank") today.

As of June 30, 2017, The NYS Teachers Retirement Fund has a "funded ratio" of about 98%.

For the same date, the Teachers Retirement System of New York City has a "funded ratio" of about 57%.

In the simplest terms, that means that a teacher working anywhere in NYS outside of New York City has a pension benefit that is 71% more secure than a teacher working in NYC. If all the assets held by both the NYS and NYC pension systems were sold tomorrow for stone-cold cash NYS teachers would wind up with 71% more money in the bank than NYC teachers.

I'm not saying current NYC teachers need to worry about their pensions. But any teacher who started working during the last few years and intends to work to retirement as a teacher ought not to take for granted anything about what will be available to her or to him in 25 years.

Keep in mind that the Teachers Retirement System of NYC has three trustees elected (er, appointed) by the UFT (er, UNITY) and one each appointed by the Mayor, the Comptroller and the Chair of the Panel for Educational Policy.

This means that the Mayor controls two trustees, the Comptroller controls one and the UFT (er, the members or whatever) controls three. There is no pointing at "them" for the failures of the NYC fund. We have met the enemy and they are us.

Now you know.

Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention anyone retiring in the next 5 years, and if they live a good long life will their pension checks suddenly stop when they're 75-80 years old?

RBE said...

Thanks, Harris. Your expertise in these matters is needed. So it seems the promises made to NYC teachers may not be kept either.

TJL said...

RBE can you elaborate on the health care contribution for JC teachers. I ask because NYC teachers can also have sky-high premiums if we elect to use an insurer other than GHI (for instance, the Empire PPO, costs us $18,758.40 per year).