Real wages for faculty decrease for third consecutive year

The news from the American Association of University Professors’ annual faculty compensation survey is in, and it is not good: While faculty wages rose 4.1 percent this year, real average pay—which takes inflation into account—decreased by 2.4 percent. That makes the 2022–23 academic year the third year in a row that shows a decrease in average real faculty pay, including last year when it dipped by a whopping 5 percent.

Graphic of dollar sign in grayscale

The survey also calls part-time adjunct faculty pay “appallingly low” at some institutions—on average, it clocks in at $3,874 per three-credit-hour course section, with two-thirds of institutions providing no retirement or medical benefits whatsoever. And it shows salary disparity by gender: For all academic ranks combined, full-time women faculty earn just 82 percent of what men earn, or $20,900 less. The gender disparity extends to lower representation of women in top ranks of the professoriate.

Chock-full of information on faculty salaries and fringe benefits, the report summarizes compensation data by rank and gender, as well as institutional characteristics such as AAUP category, affiliation and region. There is also data on the salaries of presidents and other top administrators, and how they compare with the average salaries of full professors. There are no comparisons based on discipline or race and ethnicity.

An interactive data website allows users to explore the data further and view graphs and charts that lay out changes in salary, benefits and gender disparity, including institutional-level data so that users can look up information on their own schools.

The preliminary data released is just a taste of the full report, which will be published online in June as the “Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession: 2022–23.” It is based on a survey of more than 370,000 full-time and 90,000 part-time faculty members at nearly 900 colleges and universities, as well as data on administrators at more than 500 institutions. The final data set will be released in July.

Key preliminary findings, taken directly from the report, include:

  • Average salaries for full-time faculty members (all ranks combined) increased 4.1 percent, the greatest one-year increase since 1990–91.
  • Average salaries for full-time faculty members increased 4.5 percent among public institutions, 3.8 percent among private-independent institutions and 2.7 percent among religiously affiliated institutions.
  • Real average salaries for full-time faculty members decreased 2.4 percent. (The CPI-U [consumer price index for urban consumers] increased 6.5 percent in 2022, 7 percent in 2021 and 1.4 percent in 2020.)
  • Average salaries for continuing full-time faculty members (those employed in fall 2021 and remaining employed in 2022) increased 4.8 percent in nominal terms, but decreased 1.7 percent in real terms, after adjusting for inflation.

Full data sets from the survey are available free of charge to AFT local presidents, AAUP chapter leaders and AAUP state conference officers; institutions may purchase the data sets for a fee. The interactive data site is available to any user, and report appendices with institutional-level data are available here. Summary tables and explanations are also available.

[Virginia Myers]