DENVER (KDVR) — Denver-area teachers will need sizable pay raises to keep their recent streak of increased purchasing power.
Denver Public Schools and Jeffco Public Schools teachers are in the process of negotiating higher pay, saying their salaries have not kept up with 40-year record inflation. In the past, the purchasing power of teacher salaries went down in economic downturns.
If they get raises, it will be consistent with history. Teacher salaries have stayed roughly in inflation-adjusted dollars over the last two decades, according to Colorado Department of Education pay records.
The average pay for a non-charter Denver metro teacher was $39,391 in 2000. This includes Adams 12 Five Star, Adams County 14, Adams-Arapahoe 28J, Boulder Valley, Cherry Creek, Clear Creek, Denver County, Douglas County, Elizabeth, Englewood, Gilpin County, Jefferson County, Littleton 6, Mapleton 1, Platte Canyon, School District 27J, Sheridan 2 and Westminster public schools.
Average pay rose steadily on a yearly basis through the 2000s. In the 2009-10 school year, it had risen to $51,562 per year.
It stagnated through the early 2010s, then rose through the latter half of the decade. In the 2020-21 school year, Denver area teachers made an average of $65,069.
In terms of purchasing power, the average pay has been roughly steady for the last 20 years, but inflation stopped that trend.
The FOX31 Data Desk used the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator to compare salaries across years. Economic slumps like the current one have eroded teacher pay purchasing power.
Since 2000, Denver-area teachers made an average of $55,348 a year in 2015 dollars — meaning any year’s salary would be able to buy as much as $55,348 in the year 2015.
After the country hit the Great Recession in 2008, teacher pay went down to $51,000 by 2014, losing $7,000 of its value from a peak 10 years earlier.
Teacher pay rebounded when the economy recovered. In the 2020-21 school year, it was back up to $57,000 in 2015 dollars — a 10-year high.
Inflation started setting in last year, and teacher pay was worth $150 less in 2015 terms. Since then, cost of living has gone up 9.1%.