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As Students Return to School, Teacher Shortages Loom

Author: Liz Anderson
24 Aug 22

Education has been a difficult industry to recruit for since COVID began. Now, several parts of the U.S. are facing teacher shortages.

In the upcoming days and weeks, students across the United States will once again step into schools. In many ways, it will be the most normal school year for them in over two years; school districts have lifted the majority of remaining COVID-19 restrictions. However, many schools are reckoning with a teacher shortage, adding stress to an otherwise “normal” school year. 

Teachers have experienced a difficult past few years juggling pandemic-induced online learning, ever-changing restrictions, and increasingly fraught school politics. The quits rate in education has been steadily rising since the beginning of the pandemic; teachers may be suffering from burn-out after over two years of straining conditions. 

Recruiting for the profession has become harder following the complications caused by COVID. The total cost in job advertising to receive one application, or the cost per application (CPA), in education has been elevated since February 2020. Though it has been falling, the CPA is still above pre-COVID levels. Attempting to recruit a teacher in the past two years has been expensive and difficult. Yes, this isn’t unique to education: the overall labor market is currently very tight. But, the median CPA for education ($26.49) was above the overall median CPA ($25.82) in July. 

Meanwhile, the median apply rate in education has been on the whole elevated compared to February 2020, right before COVID. However, compared to other industries, the apply rate is actually fairly low; teachers are applying at a lower rate than workers in other industries. 

Apply rates in the education sector tend to lag behind other industries; educators need specific credentials that are achieved after several years of work. The barriers to the teaching profession are higher than many others. Recognizing this, some schools facing teacher shortages have done away with stricter requirements. 

Recruiting teachers during the past two years proved to be very difficult – the tight job market in education continues to be difficult to navigate. For several districts, this environment has culminated in teacher shortages this year, right as children are returning to school. 

Economics Writer

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