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

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

(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