The people hired in New Jersey to develop the next generation of leaders, doctors and everyday workers are paid, on average, about 20% more than folks who have jobs in other lines of work.

A state-by-state analysis from Business.org, which was updated to reflect 2019-2020 figures, finds that New Jersey posts the fourth-highest differential between teacher salaries and the salaries of all other occupations.

Nationwide, teachers earn 13% more than the average salary, according to the analysis. In New Jersey, the spread is 19.9% — only California, New York and Pennsylvania post higher differences.

"We believe it's very important to have competitive salaries, benefits and working conditions for all school employees," Steve Baker, director of communications for the New Jersey Education Association, said in response to the report.

Baker noted that Education Week ranked New Jersey as having the best public schools in America two years in a row. In an annual survey released this March, U.S. News & World Report listed New Jersey's K-12 public schools as the best in the nation.

"You want to make sure that we continue to attract and retain the quality of professionals that allow us to build schools of that quality," Baker said.

According to the teachers union, New Jersey typically ranks in the top 4 or 5 when it comes to overall educator salary. That aligns with the fact that New Jersey is a more expensive state to live in, Baker said.

According to the Business.org report, the average teacher salary in New Jersey was $76,376 for 2019-2020. The East Coast features six of the best-paying states for teachers, including New York, which puts out the highest average salary per educator — $87,543.

The report suggests that teacher salaries in New Jersey actually fell 1.19% since 2010, when taking inflation into account.

"That's concerning," Baker said. "You cannot continue to sustain the best schools in the country if you are not keeping up with the cost of living in New Jersey."

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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