In 2011, after the unemployment rate doubled from 5 to 10 percent, the housing market crashed and the stock market took a nose dive, we took an early look at the impact of those economic contractions on teacher employment and found that, while there were isolated layoffs of significance (mostly in California), teachers had been relatively protected from job loss.


  • On average, teachers continued to get raises post-recession, but the increases were one-third to one-half of what they were at the start of the recession.
  • In 80 percent of the districts studied (33 out of 41), teachers had a total pay freeze or pay cut in at least one of the school years between 2008-09 and 2011-12.
  • 95 percent of the districts (39 out of 41) froze or cut at least one component of scheduled teacher raises (step increases or annual adjustments) at some point over the four years.
  • Of the forty-one districts in our sample, Chicago Public Schools had the highest average raise over the four years at 6.5 percent.

The Recession’s Impact on Teacher Salaries

“Sticky wages” are the reason for unemployment during recessions and depressions.

In recessions, money and wealth fall, but wages stay the same or even increase. Thus some people must lose their jobs altogether so that others can keep the salaries they had before.

Click image to enlarge
Teacher raises since crash
Wages: average for Irvington teacher compared to average Irvington
& Tarrytown residents

4% average increase in teacher compensation year-to-year
Highest IBM raise = 3.5%
Sticky wages: wage change in 2011
Work sharing: A strategy to preserve jobs during the global jobs crisis
Kuzarbeit scheme