News Story

Michigan Teachers Rank No. 2 For Salary

When cost-of-living is factored in, state's teachers jump near top of list for pay

Michigan teachers rank second in the nation in terms of salary when the cost-of-living is factored in, according to an analysis done by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

Maryland ranked No. 1; Illinois was No. 3 followed by New York and California.

The analysis of salaries comes after Michigan Superintendent of Education Mike Flanagan said he would like to see all full-time public schools teachers make $100,000 a year in salary, which he said would attract higher quality teachers.

Michael Van Beek, education policy director at the Mackinac Center, estimated it would take $4.2 billion to increase all teachers to that six-figure salary level.

"When adjusting for context, Michigan's teachers have some of the highest average salaries in the entire country," Van Beek said. "Add to this the fact that Michigan districts spend more on benefits for teachers than most other states, and it becomes clear that Michigan's teachers are highly paid, on average, at least compared to their counterparts in other states."

Mackinac Center Education Policy Analyst Audrey Spalding said paying all teachers in Michigan $100,000 wasn't the best option to attract higher quality teachers.

"A better solution would be to pay teachers based on job performance and hiring difficulty," Spalding said. "Some high-performing Michigan teachers are surely paid too little, and their pay should be increased. But others are already earning more than they could elsewhere, and may in fact be overpaid."

Michigan ranked seventh nationally based solely on average teacher salary at $63,023, according to the National Education Association. New York led the county at $71,633.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy used teacher salary averages reported by the NEA in 2009-10, the latest year data was available. The Center then factored in a state-by-state cost of living index available from political scientists William Berry, Richard Fording and Russell Hanson. Their index values adjust for cost-of-living in every state from 1960 to 2007.

Another education website had Michigan No. 2 in the country when factoring in cost of living with salaries., an educational website owned by QuinStreet Inc. in California, used starting salaries and overall salaries from the NEA, job surveys and from private data sources and then factored in cost-of-living. It had Michigan as the second-most “friendly” in the country, behind Connecticut for teachers.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.