Researchers have good data on teachers' annual salaries but a hazy understanding of teachers’ hours of work. This makes it difficult to calculate an accurate hourly wage and leads policy makers to default to anecdote rather than fact when debating teacher pay.
Using data from the American Time Use Survey, this paper reports that teachers work an average of 34.5 hours per week on an annual basis (38.0 hours per week during the school year and 21.5 hours per week during the summer months).
When hours per week are accurately accounted for high school teachers earn in the range of 7–14 percent less than demographically similar workers in other occupations. However, elementary, middle, and special education teachers earn higher wages than demographically similar workers in other occupations.