Making the Grade
Chart 3 grades the average state faculty salary compared to household income. The grades were calculated by dividing the average state faculty salary (IPEDS) at two- and four-year public institutions by the average four-person household income in the state (U.S. Census). The ratios were then organized into quintiles, and grades were assigned. This grade shows the relationship between faculty salary in the state and average income in the state (Chart 3). A “minus” was assigned to state grades (except when the grade was an “F”) when the state faculty salary fell below the national median household income, which was $47,875 in 2006. This downgrade only affected community college faculty.
Ten states had average community college faculty salaries that kept pace with state household income and received an “A.” Six states received an “A” for both public two-year and public four-year institutions: Alabama, Arizona, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, and New York. Ten states saw a positive grade change for community colleges, while nine had a negative change. Of those nine, three had a grade of “F.”
Nineteen states saw grade changes for public four-year institutions; eight of these saw grade declines. New Jersey, which is at the top end of average national faculty salaries for both sectors, continues to fall behind the state household income; its grade remained steady at a “C” for public two-year institutions, but did increase from a “D” to a “C” for public four-year institutions. Conversely, some of the lowest-paying states received high marks when their average faculty salaries were compared to the state household income. West Virginia and Mississippi continued to receive “passing” grades this year.
There is still a gap in faculty salaries between states with and without collective bargaining. The states that do not have collective bargaining are noted on Chart 3 with an asterisk. For two-year public institutions, only two non-bargaining states (Arizona and Virginia) are in the top 20 average salaries. Three non-bargaining states (Arizona, North Carolina, and Virginia) are in the top 20 for four-year public institutions. While the gap has narrowed somewhat over the last few years, faculty salaries still tend to be higher in states with collective bargaining agreements.
Another example of the difference between those states with and without collective bargaining agreements can be seen when comparing salaries by academic field. Most academic departments at institutions with collective bargaining have higher average salaries than those without bargaining agreements. However, collective bargaining seems to have less of an effect on salaries in some of the highly-paid specialties that are affected by external employment opportunities. Average salaries for faculty with and without bargaining agreements are virtually the same in the engineering, business, and computer science fields. Engineering and business continue to be the highest-paid fields, with average faculty salaries that are about $30,000 higher than the average in the lowest-paid fields.