The average teacher salary hit almost $44,400 last year, according to a survey by the American Federation of Teachers. That salary reflected a 2.7 percent increase over the previous year. New teachers were paid an average starting salary of $30,719, up 3.2 percent

The figures were for the 2001-02 school year, the most recent available.

The better salaries for the first-time teachers and a slow job market in fields outside teaching helped shrink a national teacher shortage, the survey reports. But overall, state financial woes have slowed pay raises in education.

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