With an inflation rate of 7.1% in 2022-23, it’s not surprising that colleges and universities have failed to keep pay increases on par. A recent report from the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) says that despite the higher education workforce seeing the “most substantial pay raises in 2022-23 than in the past [seven] years, they are still being paid less than they were in 2019-20 in inflation-adjusted dollars.”
According to the report, all position types, including administrators, professionals, staff, and faculty, received an increase of at least 1.11 percentage points compared to the previous year. However, the smallest pay increases continue to be among faculty.
Tenure-track faculty experienced a median pay increase of 2.9% while non-tenure-track faculty saw an increase of 3.2%. Failure to keep pace with inflation is nothing new for this group of employees. CUPA-HR’s higher ed workforce salary survey data from 2016 to 2023 reveals that “tenure-track faculty salary increases have not kept pace with inflation since at least 2015, and non-tenure-track salary increases last met or exceeded inflation in 2016-17.”
Staff, on the other hand, received the biggest raises this academic year at 5.3% (compared to 2.9% in 2021-22). This is somewhat of a win for this group of higher ed employees who are traditionally the lowest paid.
Not surprisingly, in the first year after the pandemic (2020-21), salary increases started falling short of the inflation rate. That year, pay increases for all categories of the higher ed workforce were under 1% despite a 1.2% inflation rate. Though pay increases rebounded somewhat in the 2021-22 academic year, they didn’t come close to matching the skyrocketing inflation rate of 6.8%. Faculty have been the most impacted. According to CUPA-HR, “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.”
Overall, it seems that wage gains will continue to trail behind until we can curb the inflation rate.
To see more in-depth information on the raises of each higher education position type, check out CUPA-HR’s newest interactive graphic.
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