NEA Rankings and Estimates: Utah teacher salaries are on the rise

Utah had the nation’s third highest percentage growth in average teacher salaries and the seventh highest percentage growth in overall education spending from 2020 to 2021 according to reports recently released by the National Education Association.

The growth moved Utah from 31st to 29th place nationally in teacher salaries. Despite the bump in overall education spending, Utah remained in 50th place in that category for the second straight year. State education spending moved ahead of Idaho in last year’s ranking, relinquishing the 51st and last spot in national education spending held by Utah for multiple decades.

“The recent growth in education spending and teacher salaries are certainly cause for celebration,” said UEA Director of Research and UEA Legislative Team member Jay Blain. “We can, in part, thank a strong Utah economy, changes in school funding law, and collaboration with the legislature for our recent funding success but it’s really our teachers’ continued advocacy and lobbying efforts on behalf of students that have prompted legislators to increase public education funding. It then takes the work of local negotiations teams to translate those increases into teacher salaries. Still, after languishing in last place in education funding for many, many years, we have a long way to go before we reach what we would consider adequate funding for our students.”

Increase in Beginning Teacher Salaries
(adjusted for inflation)
Utah +5.06%
Idaho -0.90%
Colorado -3.24%
USA -3.87%
Arizona -4.84%
Wyoming -12.56%
Nevada -15.68%

While most surrounding states experienced a net decrease in beginning teacher salaries over the past decade after accounting for inflation, Utah’s salaries grew by more than 5%, the second highest growth nationally.

NEA’s annual reports on educator pay, which provide data covering everything from the average teacher salary to state spending on students, show that the current educator shortage—when coupled with other factors such as the pandemic and the chronic underfunding of public education—is real.

The recently released NEA reports are:

  • Rankings & Estimates provides a wide array of school funding statistics and includes the average teacher salary by state and nationally.
  • Teacher Salary Benchmark Report provides information from nearly 12,000 local school districts on starting teacher salaries and salaries at other points of the teaching career continuum.

Rankings & Estimates is an annual report that the National Education Association’s Research Department has produced for 70 years. The report consists of two parts:

  • Rankings, which shows how states compare on a variety of education and funding measures, such as average teacher salaries, enrollment, student-teacher ratios, general financial resources, and revenue and expenditures for the most recent school year; and
  • Estimates, which shows how education funding in each state has changed over time, plus presents projections of public school enrollment, personnel employment and compensation, and finances for the school year that is underway.

NEA collects the data for Rankings & Estimates from state affiliates and state departments of education.