Understanding teacher shortages: An analysis of teacher supply and demand in the United States


  • Leib Sutcher Learning Policy Institute
  • Linda Darling-Hammond Learning Policy Institute
  • Desiree Carver-Thomas Learning Policy Institute




teacher shortages, teacher supply, teacher demand, attrition


This paper reviews the sources of and potential solutions to teacher shortages in the United States. It describes the sources of current and projected increases in teacher demand relative to enrollments, shifts in pupil-teacher ratios, and attrition. It places these in relation to recent declines in teacher supply and evaluates evidence of shortages in fields like mathematics, science, special education, and educators for English learners, as well as in particular parts of the country. Our analysis using national databases through 2016 predicted an estimated annual teacher shortage of approximately 112,000 teachers in 2017-18. Our recent review of state teacher workforce reports estimated 109,000 individuals were uncertified for their teaching positions in the US in 2017, roughly approximating our projections. We discuss the factors driving shortages and, based on previous research, identify responses that might ameliorate these trends.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Leib Sutcher, Learning Policy Institute

Leib Sutcher is a Research Associate on LPI’s Educator Quality Team. His current work focuses on teacher labor market issues, including recruitment and retention, the inequitable distribution of unqualified and inexperienced educators, and teacher shortages.

Linda Darling-Hammond, Learning Policy Institute

Linda Darling-Hammond is President of the Learning Policy Institute and Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education Emeritus at Stanford University. She was principal investigator for the team that designed the federal Schools and Staffing Surveys and has conducted extensive research on issues of educator supply, demand, and quality. Among her award-winning publications in this area are the 1996 report of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, What Matters Most: Teaching for America’s Future; Teaching as the Learning Profession; and Preparing Teachers for a Changing World: What Teachers Should Learn and Be Able to Do.

Desiree Carver-Thomas, Learning Policy Institute

Desiree Carver-Thomas is a Research and Policy Associate on LPI’s Educator Quality Team. She is the lead author of Addressing California’s Growing Teacher Shortage: 2017 Update and Teacher Turnover: Why it Matters and What we can Do about It. Previously, she taught in New York City public schools, and consulted on strategies for diverting recidivism and implementing a full-service community schools initiative.




How to Cite

Sutcher, L., Darling-Hammond, L., & Carver-Thomas, D. (2019). Understanding teacher shortages: An analysis of teacher supply and demand in the United States. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 27, 35. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.27.3696



Understanding and Solving Teacher Shortages

Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 > >>