Why are West Virginia teachers on strike? Take a look at their salaries

Updated 12:33 PM ET, Mon March 5, 2018

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(CNN)When it comes to teacher salaries, West Virginia ranks 48th in the nation, according to the National Education Association.

And it's one of only five states where teacher wages actually went down between 2015 and 2016.
That would explain why nearly 20,000 teachers and about 13,000 school service personnel are battling the state's government for better benefits and higher pay.
So how much does a teacher in West Virginia make? These are numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Take a look for yourself.
The numbers above don't include the salaries of the state's career and technical education, special education or pre-school teachers. The difference between their pay and the national average is equally stark.
Keep in mind that the numbers above are teachers' base salary. They don't include deductions, such as Social Security or teacher retirement accounts.
Also, they also don't include deductions for health insurance. That's a big one, and it's one of the main issues the striking teachers are looking to address.
For now, only three other states rank lower than West Virginia for teacher salaries:
  • Oklahoma
  • Mississippi
  • South Dakota
(The District of Columbia is included in the state rankings, which is why they add up to 51.)
    On the other end of the range, teachers in New York, California and Massachusetts earn the highest salaries -- more than $79,000 in New York, for example. But of course, the cost of living is higher in those states, too.
    How states (and D.C.) rank in teacher salaries

    1. New York

    2. California

    3. Massachusetts

    4. District of Columbia

    5. Connecticut

    6. New Jersey

    7. Alaska

    8. Maryland

    9. Rhode Island

    10. Pennsylvania

    11. Michigan

    12. Illinois

    13. Oregon

    14. Delaware

    15. Vermont

    16. Wyoming

    17. Hawaii

    18. Nevada

    19. Minnesota

    20. New Hampshire

    21. Ohio

    22. Iowa

    23. Georgia

    24. Wisconsin

    25. Washington

    26. Kentucky

    27. Texas

    28. Nebraska

    29. Montana

    30. Virginia

    31. Indiana

    32. Maine

    33. North Dakota

    34. Louisiana

    35. Florida

    36. South Carolina

    37. Alabama

    38. Arkansas

    39. Tennessee

    40. Missouri

    41. North Carolina

    42. Kansas

    43. Arizona

    44. New Mexico

    45. Utah

    46. Colorado

    47. Idaho

    48. West Virginia

    49. Oklahoma

    50. Mississippi

    51. South Dakota

    Source: National Education Association 2016 study