A constrained labor market with low unemployment is seeing Americans depart their jobs at a increased rate. Among them are public educators, who are leaving the field at the highest rate since 2001, according to the Wall Street Journal.
According to the Labor Department, educators quit at an average rate of 83 per 10,000 a month for the first 10 months of 2018. This is still lower than the average rate for American workers overall, which totals 231 per 10,000 workers, but is the highest rate for educators since data collection began 17 years ago.
By contrast, the lowest number of public educators quitting was in 2009 when 48 educators per 10,000 left their jobs voluntarily.
Since 2015, school districts reported having trouble finding enough qualified teachers to fill open positions. This, according to nonpartisan education-policy research group Learning Policy Institute, has led states to open up temporary teaching jobs to people with no official training.
The increased rate of public educator departures is likely to exacerbate that trend, the Journal said.
Public education funding is also still reeling from the effects of the last recession; in at least 12 states budgets are down at least seven percent from 2009 numbers, according to an analysis of census data by the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union, reported that educator pay across the country is five percent lower than it was in 2009.
Raises for public educators were also down, only reaching 2.2 percent in the third quarter compared to 3.1 percent in private-sector workers, according to the Labor Department.
As more and more states require teachers to earn a master’s degree to work in classrooms, prospective educators are grappling with the cost of higher education coupled with slow salary growth.