Survey: Oregon teacher salaries lag behind private sector
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A study by a pro-worker group found that Oregon public school teachers are paid so skimpily that, despite their generous health and pension benefits, their overall compensation is 9 percent lower than they would receive in the private sector.
The Oregonian/OregonLive reported Tuesday on the Oregon Center for Public Policy’s deep dive into results of the American Community Survey. It found that, for each week they work, Oregon teachers make 22 percent less in salary and 9 percent less in total compensation than a comparable Oregon worker who is not a public school teacher.
Given that the average teacher earns $61,600, according to 2017 figures from the National Center for Education Statistics, and works 43 weeks per year, that suggests a similar full-time, year-round Oregon worker earns an average of $90,000, which seems unlikely.
In 2017, for instance, median pay for Oregonians with a bachelor’s degree was about $49,000, and for those with a master’s or professional degree, it was about $64,000, the American Community Survey found.
But the researcher behind the study, made public Tuesday, says there’s more nuance and complexity to his findings. Daniel Hauser, policy analyst for the policy center, said the research method he used, known as a regression analysis, didn’t generate one average wage or compensation level for teachers and another for all other full-time workers.
Rather, he said, the study captured how much any teacher, given his or her age, gender, education level, race and marital status, would likely earn per week of work versus other full-time Oregon workers with the same characteristics.
The 9 percent compensation gap he calculated took into account whether the workers held bachelors, masters or advanced degrees, Hauser said. But it did not take into account whether a degree was in science, math or engineering versus in art history, literature or education, he said. It also is possible that teachers overstated how many weeks they actually worked, as the American Community Survey instructs survey-takers to treat paid vacation as time worked, and some teachers may consider their summers off to be paid vacations.
The Oregon Center for Public Policy receives some of its funding from employee unions, but is primarily funded by foundations and private individuals, said its communications director, Juan Carlos Ordonez.
Paying teachers competitively is important, Hauser wrote in the study, because that helps attract and retain high-quality employees. National and international studies have found that excellent teachers produce superior results for students.
The most recent federal figures, from 2016-17, showed Oregon’s average teacher salary ranked No. 11 in the nation and was 5 percent higher than the national average of $59,000.
The fact that teaching has historically been viewed as women’s work, and that 70 percent of Oregon’s teachers are women, may contribute to average pay lagging behind private sector rates, Hauser said. Sixty percent of Oregon’s private sector workers are men, he wrote.
Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive, http://www.oregonlive.com