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For Teachers, Cost of Living Matters More Than Base Pay, Says National Center for Policy Analysis


DALLAS, August 15 -- When comparing salaries in different U.S. cities, teachers may want to pay more attention to the cost of living than their base pay, according to an analysis released today by the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA).

“Places where dollar salaries for teachers are high, such as New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles don’t look all that attractive when you consider how much it costs to live there,” said NCPA Senior Policy Analyst Matt Moore.

The NCPA analysis shows that teacher pay varies widely across major U.S. cities, but the cost of living may vary as much or more. For example:

-- With an average salary of $59,514, elementary teachers in New York City receive the highest salaries in the nation. But when adjusted for the cost of living the number drops to $42,662, making New York City’s teacher compensation 25th among major cities.

-- With an average salary of $59,824, elementary teachers in San Francisco rank 2nd in the nation. But adjusting for the cost of living, the salary falls to $32,663, making San Francisco plunge to next to last (49th).

The NCPA analysis showed similar results for secondary teachers. In Los Angeles, for example, secondary school teachers average $56,384, well above the national average of $47,120, and rank 5th among major cities. However, when adjusted for the cost of living, Los Angeles teachers’ pay plunges to 45th. Nominal salaries for secondary teachers in Houston rank 30th, but cost- of-living adjusted salaries in Houston rank 15th.

“Public school teachers who are paid above the national average may actually be compensated below the national average when you consider the cost of living,” Moore added.


Editor’s note: Tables supporting the analysis are available containing data for both elementary and secondary teachers:


The NCPA is an internationally known nonprofit, nonpartisan research institute with offices in Dallas and Washington, D. C. that advocates private solutions to public policy problems. We depend on the contributions of individuals, corporations and foundations that share our mission. The NCPA accepts no government grants.


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