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SD improves teacher pay ranking, but still near worst in country

ST. PAUL — Despite a nation-leading 11.8 percent statewide pay increase, South Dakota’s teachers continue to be among the least compensated educators in the country.

The annual Rankings and Estimates report from the National Education Association revealed average teacher salaries in South Dakota rank 49th in the country, rising to $46,979 in 2017. According to the NEA, South Dakota had ranked last in teacher pay each year from 1986 to 2017. The improvement in teacher pay comes from 2016 state legislation recommended by a statewide Blue Ribbon Task Force.

Despite the gains, South Dakota lags behind regional peers North Dakota (27th, average annual salary $52,968, up 3.4 percent), Wisconsin (24th, $54,998, 1.6 percent) and Minnesota (20th, $57,346, 0.8 percent).

The national average annual salary for teachers is $59,660. New York ranked No. 1 with $81,902, while Mississippi ($42,925) is last.

Robb Jeffries

Robb Jeffries is a news coordinator for Forum News Service. He is a graduate of the University of North Dakota and previously served as a reporter and copy editor for the Grand Forks Herald. Reach him at and follow him on Twitter at @robbjeffries.