News Story

Michigan’s 100 Year-Plus Teacher Shortage

The topic has been a state media staple

Michigan is facing a serious shortage of school teachers, according to the state superintendent.

The state superintendent fears the shortage will persist into next fall, explaining that “many young men and women have been in the teaching profession have decided to enter some other line of industry.”

It’s a familiar storyline to consumers of Michigan media outlets. But this example is not from 2021.

The quote and claims are from a Lansing State Journal article published in June 1917. More than 100 years ago.

In the 105 years from 1917 to 2021, just 18 passed without at least one example of a newspaper article, feature or commentary broaching the subject of teacher shortages.

That’s what was revealed by a search for the topic in Michigan newspapers whose archives are available on, a subscription-based archive site that includes 94 state newspapers.

Sometimes the item was a national story on teacher shortages. Often it was a story on a local district facing a teacher shortage.

While the times have changed, the talking points are the same.

“The acute shortage of teachers was blamed today on low salaries,” reported the Lansing State Journal on May 20, 1945.

In 1966, the Ludington Daily News reported, “Some crises never seem to be resolved. The critical problems of local school districts fall in this category, and particularly the teacher shortage. As far as memory goes back, it seems school teachers have always been in demand. This year apparently will be no exception.”

In 1953, the Wakefield News reported, “Teacher shortage is bad, but there’s a disagreement about how bad.”

That article reported the average teacher salary in Michigan was $3,900 a year. Adjusted for inflation, that would be $37,590 in 2020 dollars. According to the state of Michigan, the average teacher salary in Michigan in 2020 was $63,553.

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.