How Earned Wage Access Can Address the K-12 Teacher Shortage & Reduce Turnover

Illustration of a teacher holding a pointer and a book in a classroom setting with a chalkboard, desk, and globe.

The United States is experiencing a severe teacher shortage that shows no signs of abating. Nationwide, there are currently 567,000 fewer educators in public schools today than there were before the pandemic.1 Additionally, nearly 9 in 10 public school districts struggled to hire teachers heading into the school year, and many potential hires were deterred by low salaries.2

This crisis has only worsened in recent years due to factors like low pay, high stress, lack of support, and better career alternatives. These factors are leading to a high level of burnout with K-12 teachers feeling the highest burnout at 44% compared to 35% in colleges and universities.3

Schools with teacher shortages often increase class sizes, cut programs, and use more substitutes or unprepared instructors. These factors combine to further burnout teachers and put an unnecessary strain on staff.4

Teacher shortages and high turnover rates are intricately connected and pose significant challenges for educational systems. Schools facing persistent teacher shortages often rely on less experienced or underqualified staff, leading to decreased job satisfaction and increased stress among teachers. This environment fosters high turnover rates, as teachers seek better conditions or leave the profession altogether. This cycle compromises the quality of education, as frequent staff changes disrupt student learning and undermine efforts to build a stable, skilled teaching workforce. 

Ideally, teacher salaries and working conditions would improve and offer a teacher shortage solution overnight. However, budget constraints make matters much more complicated. 

How Financial Benefits Like Earned Wage Access Can Be a Teacher Shortage Solution

The federal government has laid out a plan to attract more teachers, with hiring and retention being among the key initiatives.5 

One key reason teachers leave is lack of adequate pay and financial insecurity. Many teachers work second jobs during the year or over the summer to make ends meet.6 This high financial stress exacerbates burnout and turnover.  

School districts must develop teacher shortage solutions to recruit and retain high-quality teachers aligned with the federal initiative. Teacher salary increases are closely tied to school budget decisions, which are often constrained by limited funding.

For perspective, about 2 million elementary and middle school teachers and 1.1 million secondary school teachers were employed in the U.S. as of May 2022. The average annual salary for these jobs was $67,980 and $69,400, respectively.7

When budgets cannot accommodate significant salary raises, teachers may face financial insecurity, leading some to resort to solutions like payday loans. These loans always come with predatory interest rates and can exacerbate financial strain. 

An alternative is earned wage access (EWA) for public schools. EWA is a financial wellness benefit that allows teachers to access earned wages before payday. While schools may struggle to increase salaries directly, offering EWA can provide immediate financial relief and contribute to overall teacher satisfaction and retention

EWA gives employees access to their earned pay before the traditional, scheduled payday. This increased financial control has proven to increase employee engagement, retention and job satisfaction. 

By utilizing an earned wage access platform, school districts can empower teachers with greater financial freedom, security, and reduced stress. By combining higher base pay with modern financial wellness benefits, schools can show their workforce is valued and supported.

The ongoing teacher shortage has proven to be a massive challenge across the country, but more attractive compensation policies centered on financial wellness can attract more skilled teachers into classrooms. EWA is a high-impact benefit that can help attract and retain great teachers for the long term.

Get Started With EWA Today 

DailyPay’s earned wage access platform seamlessly and securely integrates with payroll, HCM and timekeeping systems to avoid unnecessary, extra work for your teams.  

From there, we’ll work with you on technical implementation and build a customized launch strategy.

Learn how your school district can get started today.

All information herein is for educational purposes only and should not be relied upon for any other use. The information herein does not constitute the rendering of professional advice by DailyPay. DailyPay does not warrant the completeness or accuracy of any information provided to you.

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