by Dr. Robert Luebke
Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
Last week the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NC DPI) declared the average teacher in North Carolina earned about $55,905 in 2021-22. Lower figures figures from the National Education Association, the organization which administers an annual teacher salary survey, have led to debates over where North Carolina ranks, but that’s another discussion. There is good reason to defer to the local numbers here.
Yes, the NC DPI teacher pay figure is higher than the NEA average salary ($54,863). However, as usual, neither figure includes what is always missing from these discussions: is the cost and value of benefits.
Among the major benefits North Carolina Teachers receive are health insurance ($7,019), retirement benefits ($12,796) and social security ($4,276). Thus, the value of benefits North Carolina teachers receive is $24,091). Adding together salary and benefits means the average teacher compensation package approaches eighty thousand dollars ($79,996).
The cost of benefits continues to increase. In the last five years, benefits as a percentage of total compensation has risen from 26 percent (2018) to 30 percent (2022). More importantly, over the same time period, while average teacher salaries in North Carolina have increased 9.1 percent, the cost of teacher benefits has increased almost thirty percent (29.7 percent).
Want to improve teacher salaries? Reign in the escalating cost of benefits.