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Report: University Faculty See Biggest Pay Decrease in 50 Years

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Thursday, July 28, 2022   

College faculty across the country saw the biggest decrease in their wages in nearly a half century, according to an annual report.

The American Association of University Professors finds average pay for full-time faculty increased 2% in fall 2021, compared with 2020. However, when inflation is factored in, real wages actually decreased 5%.

Glenn Colby, senior researcher for the American Association of University Professors who compiled the research, said it is the biggest decrease since his organization began collecting salary data in 1972.

"It's not just the wallet that hurts," Colby explained. "Actually, working conditions have been a problem as well, and ultimately we worry about the morale of faculty who have, for the last couple of years, been in constant crisis mode putting out one fire after another."

Colby pointed out numbers were similar to the national average for the University of Washington and Washington State University. He noted the only fortunate news to come from the data is layoffs in the wake of the pandemic have seemed to slow.

The report does not include information from community and technical colleges in Washington state, although they account for nearly half of the state's instructional staff and enrolled students. Colby explained the institutions often lack the staff to compile the data.

He also stressed community and technical colleges often rely on adjunct professors, who have been even more likely to see their hours cut in the pandemic.

"It just added an air of uncertainty to the profession," Colby observed. "And makes it more difficult for the colleges to attract and retain the talent that we want in the classrooms."

Colby recommended one step faculty can take is bargaining for improved working conditions, especially contracts lasting longer than one year.

"Or, even better, negotiate for the opportunity to get tenure at some point," Colby urged.


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