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Public policy group analyzes Utah educators' compensation

By most measures, compensation for Utah educators registers close to the national average, especially when benefits are figured into the equation.

Utah teachers receive the 18th highest overall compensation in the nation after adjusting for work experience, cost of living and benefits, confirmed an analysis conducted by the Utah Taxpayers Association.

A survey of the results of several recent studies also demonstrated that salaries for Utah educators have increased faster than wages have for counterparts in nearly all other states.

Additionally, salaries for Utah educators relative to wages paid to Utah workers are similar to other states.

The association reached the conclusions based on data from the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, Utah Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst, the American Legislative Exchange Council, United States Census Bureau and the federal labor Statistics agency, indicated the independent public policy watchdog group.

Utah educator's benefits package adds an additional 36.6 percent on top of teacher salaries compared to the national benefit average of 25.7 percent above salary, according to the U.S. Census bureau.

Utah's cost of living index is also 1.9 percent below the U.S. average, and average teaching experience for Utah educators is 12.8 percent lower than the U.S. average.

Without adjustments, Utah classroom instructor salaries are 35th highest in the nation and 14 percent below the national average, according to 2002 figures compiled by the American Federal of Teachers.

According to the 2001 data released by the National Education Association, Utah's unadjusted teacher salaries are 38th highest in the nation and 16 percent below the national average.

Utah's average annual pay for all non-farm workers registers 17 percent below the national average, according to the labor statistics data.

The data reaffirm Utah's reputation as a low-wage state for workers in general, noted the taxpayers association.

When comparing teacher salaries to the private sector, Utah ranks 26th, 4.7 percent above the U.S. average

Utah educators on average earn 28 percent more than the average Utah private sector worker. This ratio is 4.7 percent higher than the equivalent ratio for the nation as a whole, according to the AFT.

Utah's current ranking is a significant improvement over its 1992 ranking of 46th highest.

Utah teacher salaries in comparison to college-educated workers is 35th in the nation, 2.7 percent below the U.S. average.

Utah educators earn 0.9 percent more than the average college-educated Utah worker, which is slightly lower than the 3.7 percent that average U.S. teachers earn compared to average college-educated American workers, according to ALEC.

The variation between the states is very low so that a slight 5 percent increase in Utah's ratio would increase Utah's ranking to 26th .

Utah's teachers rank 11th when compared to per-capita personal income, 8.9 percent higher than the U.S. average.

However, per-capita comparisons of Utah with other states are generally misleading due to Utah's unique demographics which are driven by families with high numbers of non-wage earning children.

Utah ranks fourth in teacher's salary increases over time compared to their counterparts in other states in the years 1992 to 2002, according to the NEA and the AFT.

During the period, nominal average teacher wages increased 43.8 percent in Utah while increasing 29.7 percent nationwide.

Utah ranked especially high in percent wage increase, and if the trend continues, Utah educators will continue to move up the national rankings.

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