Teacher Pension Costs: High, Rising, and Out of Control

Robert M. Costrell and Michael Podgursky
Publication Date: 
June 25, 2013

This article compares the pension costs of public school teachers and comparable private-sector peers. It uses data data from a quarterly survey of employer compensation costs conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the U.S. Department of Labor. The data suggest that, while private-sector pension costs have been relatively stable over the last decade at around 10.5 percent of salaries, public school pension costs have climbed from 11.9 percent of salaries in March 2004 to 14.6 percent in 2008 to 17.0 percent in 2013. In other words, the gap between public school teachers and private sector professionals and administrators has increased from 1.9 to 6.4 percent of salaries.