Jackson, Mississippi—Mississippi First, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving education in the state, has released a new report titled Falling Behind: Teacher Compensation and the Race Against Inflation. The report provides a comprehensive look at the complex factors contributing to Mississippi’s teacher shortage with emphasis on how inflation has directly affected the impact of the recent teacher pay raise.

In 2022, state lawmakers passed a significant increase in teacher salaries, boosting them by an average of $5,151, or 10.8%. This move was made in response to data indicating that over half of the state’s educators were considering leaving their positions due to low pay and an inability to afford basic necessities.

Despite these efforts, teacher turnover spiked in the 2022-2023 school year, with nearly one in four teachers leaving their roles. Research we present in Falling Behind suggests that record levels of inflation may have negated the financial benefits of the pay raise, undermining its intended effect on recruitment and retention. The report builds on the findings of two previous publications, Voices of the Shortage and Eyeing the Exit: Teacher Turnover and What We Can Do About It, both of which highlighted the strong correlation between teachers’ financial well-being and their risk of leaving the profession.

“Many complex factors contribute to the growing educator crisis in Mississippi. One thing we know for sure is that as long as teachers continue to struggle financially, they will continue to look for a way out. Because our children can’t learn in empty classrooms, we must keep working to find solutions,” Rachel Canter, Executive Director at Mississippi First stated. ”Our newest report makes the case for both a new, across-the-board raise as well as targeted policy solutions to support and retain educators.”

To examine the impact of the pay raise on teachers’ career plans, Mississippi First conducted the 2022-2023 Mississippi Teacher Survey in partnership with the Survey Research Laboratory at Mississippi State University. Although the sample size was smaller than the previous year’s survey, the data provided valuable insights into the state’s educator pipeline and the challenges teachers continue to face.

“Our hope is that the findings of this report will catalyze meaningful action to ensure that our teachers are compensated fairly and can maintain a sustainable standard of living,” says Canter.

Mississippi First is a non-partisan, nonprofit education policy and advocacy organization whose mission is to champion transformative policy solutions ensuring educational excellence for every Mississippi child. We are a leading voice for high-quality early education, high-quality public charter schools, and access to highly effective teachers and leaders.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Mississippi First
Brooke Williams
Director of Communications