Governor Dennis Daugaard cheers South Dakota’s mighty ascent from 51st to 48th in the nation for average teacher pay with a declaration that we are accomplishing his goal “to make South Dakota’s teacher salaries competitive with other states, considering salaries and cost of living.” The Governor’s office notes that if we factor in taxes and cost of living, we actually rank 29th nationally.
You know what’s coming.
If we revisit the tax burden figures WalletHub offered a couple weeks ago and subtract each state’s state and local tax burden from each state’s average teacher salary (and throw in this estimate from D.C. to cover all 51 data points), South Dakota’s straight after-tax teacher pay ranks 45th in the nation. If we then divide each after-tax average by each state’s cost of living, as calculated by C2ER, South Dakota’s after-tax COL-adjusted average teacher pay ranks 47th in the nation.
How do things look in the region?
|2017 salary||st/loc tax burden||2017 sal after tax||2017 COL||COL adjust|
On straight dollars, we’re still $4,443 behind our closest competitor, Montana, and more than $10K behind Minnesota and Wyoming.
After tax, we’re still nearly $4,000 behind Montana and further behind everyone else in the neighborhood.
Apply cost of living—which by C2ER’s measure isn’t really that different in South Dakota from the national average—and the average South Dakota teacher’s purchasing power is 7.8% less than in Montana, 17.7% less than in Minnesota, and 26.2% less than Iowa’s.
No matter which of these measures you pick, South Dakota teacher pay remains in the bottom ten in the nation and dead last in the region.
Update 12:04 CDT: The Governor’s press release cites the 2016 Tax Foundation tax burden data and the April 2017 Bureau of Economic Analysis “regional price parity” data that the Governor’s Office of Economic Development uses to generate its 50-state comparisons. When I run GOED’s numbers on NEA’s numbers, I find South Dakota’s post-tax purchasing power ranks 37th in the nation. The regional picture through GOED’s goggles looks like this:
|GOED data||2017 salary||st/loc tax burden $||2017 sal after tax||2017 RPP||RPP adjust|
GOED’s numbers make South Dakota look better—we come within $1,375 of the next closest state, Montana—but even under those rosier numbers, South Dakota teachers’ average purchasing power remains at the bottom of the regional heap, 2.7% to 13.2% below our neighbors’.