July 05, 2022
Full-time faculty pay is dipping more than it ever has, and inequities continue to plague the profession, according to a new report from the American Association of University Professors. Meanwhile, more than half of the faculty in the United States are working on a contingent basis, and average pay for adjuncts is as low as $2,979 per course at public associate institutions.
The AAUP’s “Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession(link is external), 2021-22” headlines falling wages for full-time faculty: While they increased 2 percent in 2021-22, after taking inflation into account, real wages for full-time faculty decreased 5 percent—the largest one-year decrease on record since the AAUP began tracking this measure in 1972. Meanwhile, women earned just 81.9 percent of what their male colleagues earned, and data shows the deepest disparities are in the higher ranks of the profession.
“Collectively, these data sources paint a bleak economic picture of the profession,” the AAUP concludes in a summary of the report. “Deteriorating wages of college and university faculty members in relation to the wages of other professions, continued gender pay inequality, appallingly low pay for adjunct faculty members, erosion of the financial structures that support higher education, rising threats to academic freedom and shared governance, and continued uncertainty about the COVID-19 pandemic—all threaten the standards of the profession and the quality of higher education itself.”
To interrupt the downward spiral, the AAUP calls on faculty, administrators, associations, labor unions, elected officials and citizens to “demand access to relevant data to inform policy decisions. … We can break the cycle only through up-to-date, objective, reliable demographic data and complete transparency regarding faculty compensation and working conditions, combined with collective action focused on social justice.”