Are Indiana teachers underpaid compared to their peers in others states? It’s a reasonable question to ask as state officials debate ways to find more money for teacher salaries.
A report from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis suggests they are underpaid. After adjusting for cost of living, Indiana teacher salaries rank 32nd among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, it says.
The average “real” salary for a Hoosier teacher in 2017 was $56,347 after adjusting for the state’s low cost of living. Adjusted average salaries ranged from $75,000 in Alaska to $46,230 in Oklahoma.
Significantly, Indiana’s adjusted average salary was well below that for teachers in surrounding states. Gov. Eric Holcomb has suggested Indiana needs to raise educator pay because it’s at risk of losing teachers to nearby states with higher salaries.
Adjusted average teacher salaries were over $66,000 in Ohio and Michigan — $10,000 higher than in Indiana. They were $64,445 in Illinois and $61,455 in Kentucky.
The data contrasts with figures that Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma reported in January and that Republican legislators have included in their talking points.They’re saying Indiana teacher salaries rank ninth when adjusted for cost of living. In that version, Indiana teachers aren’t doing so badly – although they still trail teachers in Michigan, Ohio and Illinois.
Bosma used average salaries for public school teachers from the National Education Association and adjusted them for cost of living. The St. Louis Fed report uses Bureau of Labor Statistics data, which include wages for both public and private school teachers.
Whatever version you prefer, state averages mask a lot of variation from one school district to another, as a database published this week by the Indy Star illustrates. Among its findings:
- The average teacher salary varies from $37,221 in Medora to $64,983 in Hamilton Southeastern.
- The minimum salary varies from $30,000 in Eminence to $46,852 in Speedway.
- The maximum salary varies from $38,252 in Pike County to $90,577 in Zionsville.
Those are some huge disparities – an issue that should be on the agenda for the teacher pay commission that Holcomb appointed this week.