Average wages for workers in education have dropped by as much as $150 per week in recent years, according to a Statistics Canada Study.
Throughout 2005, the average take-home teacher income in the territory’s schools, colleges, training centres and other learning institutions was lower than it was in 2002.
And, in 2005, it was higher than in 2004, when teacher wages hit a five-year low in the Yukon.
Throughout 2004, the weekly earnings for education workers fell below what they were in 2000.
While the statistics show teachers making less money in recent years, full-time teachers and instructors are not going home with less pocket money.
Teachers working in the territory’s public schools are unionized, as are staff at Yukon College.
Salaries have continued to rise according to collective agreements and inflation, according to college and Education department spokespersons.
“The salaries have not gone down,” said Yukon Teachers’ Association executive director Dennis Rankin.
And the number of teachers hasn’t decreased either.
“I know the number of teachers has not fluctuated much in the last 10 years,” said Rankin.
So what’s going on?
Many teachers have retired from public schools in recent years, said Rankin.
So people at the upper end of the pay scale are leaving.
Younger people, lower on the echelon, are replacing them.
For example, in 2002, the Yukon Teachers’ Association marked 19 retirements.
In 2004, however, 24 teachers wiped down the blackboard for the last time.
Younger teachers, and those with less experience, seem to account for some of the shift in weekly wages, said Rankin.
However, the changeover hasn’t noticeably altered teacher demographics, said Rankin.
“My internal impression hasn’t been a big change in the mix,” he added.
“I haven’t noticed any bulge in step zero or one (of the pay scale.)”
However, when teachers retire they are often earning top wages.
Some positions are filled with people earning mid-range wages; that could result in some drop in average salary.
“The people hired to fill the vacancies could well be scattered all the way from level zero to nine,” said Rankin.
“There has been no noticeable decision to hire one experience level in particular.”
Yukon College may soon be experiencing a similar phenomenon, although it hasn’t hit yet, according to communications officer Spence Hill.
“There hasn’t been a huge shift in our demographic base,” said Hill in a phone interview.
With baby boomer retirements looming, though, the college expects an influx of younger instructors in the coming years.
“We are expecting a blip in people who would be lower on the pay grid,” she said.
“It hasn’t happened yet, though.”
The data is puzzling, according to school superintendent Lee Kubica.
“It’s very strange,” he said about the numbers.
“It’s like a whole pot of people in those two years at a very low salary entered into the system somewhere.”
The average wage for Yukon schoolteachers far surpasses the weekly averages in the study, which examined the wider education community, from tutors to college instructors.
The study showed salaries ranging between $800 to $1,000 a week.
A shift in pay scale could account for some fluctuation, said Kubica a phone interview.
However, it is unlikely to account for such a dramatic shift.
“Part of problem might be that this would probably include individuals like substitute teachers and their salaries,” said Kubica.
“The number of substitute teachers we have in any given year jumps all over the place.
“Substitute teachers are paid far, far less than any of our employees.”
The number of sessional instructors employed at the college could also account for some of the lower average pay, he added.
In terms of school employees, however, there is no clear explanation.
“Certainly nothing in public schools, in terms of our numbers of people within the system and the salaries they make within the system would indicate anything like that,” added Kubica.
The Statistics Canada numbers are not specific to teachers in the territory’s school or the college.
They include privately owned and publicly-funded “establishments primarily engaged in providing instruction and training in a wide variety of subjects.”
Despite the recent fall, weekly education wages were on the rise by year-end.
From August through to November, the salary averages surpassed those in the peak year, 2002.