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While this academic year saw the largest one-year increase in full-time faculty members’ average salaries in over three decades, that still wasn’t enough to stop their real wages from falling due to inflation, the American Association of University Professors noted Thursday alongside its latest salary survey data.
They are preliminary data for the 2022–23 academic year; AAUP plans to release the final data in July. You can see trend data at this link.
According to the preliminary data, the 6.5 percent increase in the Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers was enough to turn the 4.1 percent average salary increase into a 2.4 percent drop in real wages—the third consecutive year of real-wage declines for all full-time faculty.
The decline last year was worse, when a 7 percent increase in the Consumer Price Index—the fastest inflation since 1981—dropped real wages 5 percent, per the AAUP. The organization said that was the largest real-wage decrease on record since it began tracking in 1972.
For this year’s survey, nearly 900 U.S. colleges and universities provided data for about 370,000 full-time and 90,000 part-time faculty members, the AAUP said. Over 500 institutions also provided data on senior administrators, it said.
Glenn Colby, the organization’s senior researcher, said the regular changes between the preliminary and final data amount to “nothing that moves the overall findings.”
He said, “Typically, maybe 20 or so institutions submit data late to us and we add those, and then maybe another 20 make some corrections because some of the data is estimates that people come up with” and later find the actual values.
According to the AAUP data, the average full-time full professor makes $149,600 (these averages include all kinds of institutions except associate’s degree–focused institutions that lack standard faculty ranks).
The average for these full-time full professors at public colleges and universities was $140,400, while it was $188,400 at private, nonprofit, non–religiously affiliated institutions.
The average full-time assistant professor makes about $88,600. The average for the public variety was $87,300, while the average for the private, nonprofit, non–religiously affiliated kind was $100,600.
Salaries averaged much lower for full-time, generally non-tenure-track faculty members: $73,000 for lecturers and $66,300 for instructors. Colby cautioned that sometimes institutions offer tenure to lecturers or use the term “instructor” nontraditionally. He also noted visiting faculty are counted as instructors in the data.
The data also show significant gender disparities: male full-time faculty averaged $117,800 compared to $96,900 for female full-time faculty.
Looking again just at full-time full professors, men averaged $156,800 while women averaged $136,500. There were far more male full professors than female.
The male-female gap persisted, but was much narrower, among the lower faculty ranks.
For example, male assistant professors averaged $93,000, compared to $84,800 for female assistant professors. Closest to gender parity were instructors: $68,800 for men, $64,500 for women.
The data aren’t broken down by race.
Beyond full-timers, AAUP says its annual “Faculty Compensation Survey is the largest source of data on part-time adjunct faculty members and draws attention to the appallingly low rates of pay and benefits offered to them at many institutions.”
These part-time data are reported from a smaller set of institutions, 352, and they are from last academic year instead of this one, “to enable institutions to report data for an entire academic year,” the AAUP says. They show part-timers only averaged $3,900 for each standard course section (generally three credit hours) they taught.
Colby said 48 percent of faculty nationwide are part-timers.
“It’s hard to eke out a living doing that,” he said.
The College and University Professional Association for Human Resources has reached broadly similar conclusions about the pay trend this academic year.
“Median pay for employees across the higher education workforce increased substantially from 2021–22,” the association said on its website. “Raises were the largest seen in the past seven years, and all position types experienced an increase of at least 1.11 percentage points compared to the previous year.”
But, it said, “Tenure-track and non-tenure-track teaching faculty continued to receive the smallest pay increases,” and “This year, pay increases for all employee categories again fell markedly short of the persistently high inflation rate, even though these are the largest increases seen in the past seven years.”
“Across higher ed, employees are still being paid less than they were in 2019–20 in inflation-adjusted dollars,” the association said. “Tenure-track faculty salary increases have not kept pace with inflation for any year depicted (i.e., from 2016–17 through 2022–23), and non-tenure-track salary increases last met or exceeded inflation in 2016–17, so full-time faculty in general continue to be paid less every year in inflation-adjusted dollars. High inflation has only exacerbated the gaps in pay increases faculty experience in relation to other higher ed employees.”