CRC Note 1996-03, August 1996

According to the latest estimates from the National Education Association (NEA), public school teachers in Michigan are among the highest paid in the country. With an estimated average annual salary of $49,168 in the 1995-96 school year, Michigan public school teachers were paid, on average, nearly 130 percent of the national average of $37,846. According to NEA estimates, Michigan placed third nationally, trailing only Connecticut ($50,400) and Alaska ($49,620) in average teacher salary in the 1995-96 school year.

Rankings of this nature, however, do not take into account the wide variations in personal income among the states and the relationship between teacher pay and state personal income. Per capita personal income is often used to measure the ability of a state to support government services. It should be noted, however, that per capita personal income is simply total state personal income divided by the total population, which is not equivalent to average earnings.

To demonstrate how average teacher pay compares to a state’s underlying economic base (personal income), CRC calculated an index whereby average teacher pay is divided by per capita personal income among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Using this index, Michigan ranked first nationally in the 1995-96 school year with a 208.8 percent average teacher pay/personal income index, or 42.7 percentage points higher than the national average of 166.1 percent.

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