The Pension Pac-Man: Still Eating Away at Teacher Salaries, commentary, 6-14-2016

Last month “The Pension Pac-Man: How Pension Debt Eats Away at Teacher Salaries” was released, which used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to show that, like the proverbial Pac-Man, the rapidly rising costs of teacher retirement and insurance benefits are gobbling up funds that could be spent on salaries. The BLS released new data for 2016 last week, and the trends are all in the wrong direction:

  • Since 1994, teacher salaries have not kept up with inflation, but total teacher compensation has. That’s because benefit costs are rising much faster than inflation and eating up larger and larger shares of teacher compensation. As a share of total compensation, teacher salaries have never been lower. For the average teacher, their salary is only 68.8 percent of their total compensation; benefits consume the remainder.
  • Retirement costs tend to be higher in the public sector, but retirement costs for teachers remain much higher than for any other profession, including other public-sector workers. As a percentage of their total compensation package, teacher retirement benefits eat up more than twice as much as other workers (10.9 versus 5.1 percent).
What do you think?

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