Post Academic


Remember this?: “Worst Salary Year” meets “Worst. Job Market. Ever.”

Posted in The Education Industry by Arnold Pan on September 21, 2010
Tags: , ,

To christen the opening of yet another academic job market, we thought it would be a good time to revisit what’s happening with academic salaries.  I know, I know, you’re just getting excited about the fact that the first JIL has gone online, even if I personally still haven’t been able to log on because my Ph.D. alma mater has yet to renew its account!  I don’t mean to be a wet blanket or a sore sport–though it’s probably ingrained into my very being after whiffing my 5 times on the market!–but it’s not a bad idea to know what you’re about to get yourself into, if you’re that lucky in 1-in-200 (or more) who lands a position.  And if you’re not holding the winning ticket, maybe you won’t feel quite as bad if you don’t get that academic job. (Probably not much consolation still?)

Below is basically some info we gathered about salaries at the end of the last job application cycle, which explains that salary increases were, not surprisingly, the lowest ever.  But as with the job market, here’s hoping that you can only go up from the “worst [fill in the blank] ever”…

"Handshake (Workshop Cologne '06)" by Tobias Wolter (Creative Commons license)

The AAUP’s annual salary survey is not only being covered in education-oriented publications like the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed, but also in the New York Times. Great–what we really need the “worst salary year” to complement the “Worst. Job Market. Ever.” (at least in English and Comp Lit), which we covered a few weeks ago on the blog.

The key take-away point from the high-altitude perspective of the survey is that the average pay increases across different disciplines and different ranks were outpaced by the rate of inflation.  As the Chronicle article sums it up:

In 2009-10, the average salary of a full-time faculty member rose only 1.2 percent. That’s the lowest year-to-year increase recorded by the association in the 50-year history of its salary survey.

To make matters worse, an inflation rate of 2.7 percent meant that many professors actually had less buying power than the year before. In fact, two-thirds of the 1,141 institutions surveyed over two years gave their faculty members either a pay cut, no raise, or an increase of less than 2 percent, on average.

If you take a brief look at the AAUP summary, what’s most shocking is the breakdown of percentage increase of salaries across different types of institutions: you’ll notice that about 20% of faculty received a raise of 0-.99% and that 30% or so had their salary decreased.  So basically around HALF the faculty around the country had a raise of less than 1% or took a pay cut, which means that 1/3 of faculty who received raises of 2% or more really pulled up the average.  Below are links to the AAUP survey itself, and to some of the news articles covering it:

2009-10 Report on the Economic Status of the Profession [American Association of University Professors]

“Professors’ Pay Rises 1.2%, Lowest Increases in 50 Years” [Chronicle of Higher Education]; the Chronicle also offers an easily searchable database for salary comparisons from the survey results that can be broken down by school, state, and institution type.

“Study Find 1.2 Percent Increase in Faculty Pay, the Smallest in 50 Years” [NY Times]

We also compiled some links to salary information, from salary search databases and self-reported job offers on the Academic Job Wiki:

University Salaries Revealed. Kind Of (April 1, 2010)

Show me the money!: More university salaries revealed (April 1, 2010)

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