Looking Backwards and Moving Forwards

COVID-19’s Impact on the Teacher Labor Market and Implications for the Future


Andrew Camp, Gema Zamarro, and Josh McGee

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic teachers reported high levels of stress and burnout, raising concerns about a potential increase in teacher turnover and future teacher shortages. We use administrative data from the 2018-19 through 2022-23 school years to examine how the pandemic affected teacher turnover in Arkansas. We find relatively stable turnover entering the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years but a large increase of 5.2 percentage points (26%) over pre-pandemic levels entering the 2022-23 school year. Importantly, we find significant variation by teacher and school characteristics suggesting a decline in aggregate teacher quality, diversity, and experience. Our results suggest that schools may face lasting staffing challenges related to enrollment declines and use of ESSER funds even as the pandemic era ends.

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