K-12 workers have the highest burnout rate in the United States

Story Highlights

  • U.S. K-12 workers have highest level of burnout of any industry nationwide
  • The burnout gap between K-12 workers and all other workers has increased

WASHINGTON, DC — More than four in 10 kindergarten through 12th grade workers in the United States (44%) say they “always” or “very often” feel burnt out at work, outpacing all other industries at the national scale. College and university workers have the second highest level of burnout, at 35%, making educators one of the most burnt-out groups in the U.S. workforce.


These findings are based on the Gallup Panel Workforce Study, conducted February 3-14, 2022, of 12,319 full-time U.S. employees, including 1,263 in K-12.

Within the K-12 employee population, teachers are the most burnt out, at 52%.

The gap between K-12 and all other industries has widened

K-12 workers have always been among the most exhausted workers nationwide, but the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing challenges — and introduced new ones to an already struggling profession. Openings and closings of schools; the frustrations of parents and community members with the school’s responses to the pandemic; and the social, academic, and mental health challenges students faced only compounded K-12 burnout.

In March 2020, when the pandemic began, 36% of K-12 workers reported feeling burnt out very often or always, eight percentage points higher than the 28% found among all other workers as a whole . But that gap has nearly doubled since, with 44% of K-12 workers reporting feeling burnt out very often or always, compared to 30% of all other workers, a difference of 14 points.


Levels of burnout are higher among female K-12 workers than among their male counterparts; however, this is consistent with all workers nationwide. Yet, male K-12 workers are significantly more burnt out than their male counterparts working in other industries (38% vs. 26%, respectively).

Female teachers in particular are particularly burnt out, at 55%, followed by males at 44%.


New teachers also experience higher levels of burnout than their more experienced colleagues.


Teaching has always been a very useful yet challenging job – relatively low wages compared to other public sector workers, working with students and navigating family/parent dynamics, and ever-changing national and state policies have made hard work. But the pandemic has exacerbated these challenges and added new ones. In addition to the well-known issues caused by COVID-19, a growing number of states are navigating complex political environments related to the K-12 program. And educators feel the impact in conversations and interactions with parents and families.

The result is a workforce that is burnt out and unfortunately leaving the profession at a high rate. Despite these challenges, many talented teachers nationwide remain committed to helping their students and uplifting their communities, and they need the support of principals, superintendents and other leaders to ensure these high levels of burnout does not affect their practice or personal well-being. Gallup research confirms that burnout can be temporary and that managers and leaders can mitigate it, even in challenging external environments. For teachers nationwide, the focus on reducing burnout has never been more important.

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