2022 Contingent Faculty Survey
Over the last four decades, the academic labor pool has shifted dramatically: Forty years ago, 70 percent of academic employees were tenured or on the tenure track. Today, that figure has flipped; 75 percent of faculty are not eligible for tenure, and 47 percent hold part-time positions.
The decades-long crisis of contingent workers in our colleges and universities is, in many ways, the original “gig economy,” with all its attendant woes: low wages, few benefits, little job security, and the expenses of work being shifted from the employer to the at-will employee.
The AFT and our affiliates are committed to using political advocacy and collective bargaining to improve the lives of contingent faculty and the communities they serve. One aspect of these efforts is our annual contingent faculty survey. Our survey documents the difficulties contingent faculty face trying to provide their students with a world-class education while struggling to put food on the table and pay their bills.
Previous surveys have painted a vivid portrait of how contingency plays out in the daily lives of millions of college and university faculty:
- One-quarter of respondents earn less than $25,000 annually.
- Only 20 percent report being able to comfortably cover basic monthly expenses.
- Fewer than half of survey respondents have access to employer-provided health insurance, and nearly 20 percent rely on Medicaid.
- Nearly 45 percent of faculty members surveyed have put off getting needed healthcare, including mental health services, and 64 percent have forgone dental care.
- 48 percent struggle with job security, reporting that they don’t know if they will have a teaching job until one month before the beginning of the academic year.
- For 3 out of 4 contingent faculty, employment is only guaranteed from term to term.
- A plan for a secure retirement is out of reach for most contingent faculty, with 37 percent reporting they don’t see a path to retirement.
All contingent faculty are invited to participate in the 2022 Contingent Faculty Survey. You do not have to be a member of the AFT in order to take the survey.
What happens to results?
We use the information we gather from the survey when working with elected leaders and their staff. The first step in effecting positive legislative change is often educating people about who contingent faculty are and the woeful conditions they work under. Our affiliates have used the data at the bargaining table, in lobbying for bills in state legislatures, and to inform their own understanding of contingent faculty work.
We sometimes share the elements of the data we collect with affiliated research projects, but the information we share is never personally identifiable, and we are careful to avoid sharing any raw data where the data set is so small any individual or group could be identified.