The average American teacher can only afford 12% of the homes for sale within commuting distance of their school, according to a new data study from Redfin (NASDAQ:RDFN). The new data is down from 17% in the summer of 2022 and down 30% from pre-pandemic 2019.
And the situation is equally unpleasant with rental housing – Redfin determined the average teacher can only afford 27% of available rentals within commuting distance of their school. Redfin based its report on a 2022 analysis of median teacher salaries in the 50 most populous U.S. metro areas and more than 70,000 PreK-12 public and private schools in those metros, with “commuting distance” defined as a 20-minute rush hour drive.
Redfin attributed the problem to teachers’ wages falling behind inflation – the average public school teacher’s salary rose only 2% in 2021-2022 from the prior year to $66,745, but when adjusted for inflation teachers are making $3,644 less than they were a decade ago, according to the National Education Association.
“The shortage of affordable homes is exacerbating the shortage of teachers,” said Redfin Senior Economist Sheharyar Bokhari. “Many teachers who can’t afford to buy a house near work are either renting and missing out on the opportunity to build wealth through home equity or leaving education in search of more lucrative careers.”
However, the situation is less severe in some metros – in Detroit, the average teacher can afford two-thirds (67%) of homes for sale within commuting distance of their school, while Cleveland’s teachers can afford 59% of commutable homes. At the other end of spectrum, none of the for-sale homes within commuting distance of schools in San Jose or San Diego are affordable to the average teacher, even though California has the highest teacher salaries.