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Faculty Salary Condition and Compression

This examination of relative faculty salaries was conducted in response to an Intercampus Faculty Council request that (1) the purchasing power of faculty salaries be placed in historical context and (2) that faculty salaries by rank be examined for evidence of salary compression. Both analyses relied upon faculty salary data collected by the AAUP and published each spring in ACADEME, March-April issue, "Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession." Results show that faculty have fared very well indeed and are near 25-year inflation-adjusted highpoints. The data further show that the inflation-adjusted salaries of University of Missouri full professors have typically increased more rapidly than the salaries of faculty at other ranks. Therefore, faculty salary expansion, not compression, has been the prevalent trend, especially in recent years.

Regarding University of Missouri Faculty Salary Purchasing Power Over Time: How has real faculty purchasing power changed and is there evidence of faculty rank salary compression?

An accepted method of comparing the purchasing power of salaries over an extended period is to adjust annual mean salaries for inflation and to compare adjusted salaries. That was the method used here and the inflation index used was the Consumer Price Index (CPI), or more specifically, the all-urban consumer index prepared by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on a monthly basis. The BLS monthly indices for July to June annual periods have been averaged to create a CPI index that coincides with a University of Missouri fiscal year. This fiscal year CPI was used to adjust mean salaries as reported by the University to the AAUP. More accurately, and like many other universities and colleges, the University reports mean salaries by rank and sex and by appointment, 9- or 12-month. The AAUP reports a 9-month equated salary formed by applying a 9/11ths conversion to 12-month averages to produce a 9-month equivalent figure and combining salaries of faculty with 9-month and 12-month appointments. These resulting 9-month equated salaries are the figures reported in ACADEME and are the mean salaries that have long been used by the University to compare relative market pay and gross salary increases. For a general discussion of inflation indices, please see Discussion of College and University Price Indexes

Figure 1 (PDF 5 KB) displays the annual mean salary of professors at public doctoral institutions from 1973-74 through 1997-98. In this graph, mean salary has been expressed in constant 1998 dollars. The figure was produced using data compiled by Research Associates of Washington who uses these figures in determining one component of the Higher Education Price Index (HEPI), Inflation Measures for Schools, Colleges, & Libraries published by Research Associates of Washington, Arlington, VA. Figure 1 (PDF 5 KB) shows that the purchasing power of professors' salaries is at a 25-year high in 1997-98. It also shows the degradation in salaries experienced during the high inflation years of the late 1970s and early 1980s as well as the economic slump of the late 1980s early 1990s.

Figure 2 (PDF 5 KB) is a similar display for University of Missouri faculty over the same period. The national and University trends are very similar. It is also apparent that recent history has produced much higher salaries for University faculty and that University of Missouri faculty currently enjoy salaries well above those of any of the 25 previous years. Of course, there will be some loss of relative position associated with the meager 1999-2000 increases, but not enough loss to alter the general observations. Due to the lack of comparable data, Figure 1 (PDF 5 KB) and Figure 2 (PDF 5 KB) could not be prepared for faculty of the same rank. It is unfortunate that Figure 1 (PDF 5 KB) and Figure 2 (PDF 5 KB) could not have been prepared for faculty of the same rank due to a lack of comparable data, however that limitation is of minor importance and certainly of less consequence than the advantage gained in showing that University of Missouri faculty salaries have followed national trends and continue to do so. In sum, both national and University of Missouri faculty salaries are at or near 25-year maximums and so is purchasing power.

Table 1 (PDF 8 KB) data were taken from the publicly available ACADEME publications for 1976-77 through 1998-99. (NOTE: Table 1 (PDF 8 KB) and Table 2 (PDF 11 KB) should be printed to improve clarity. Select the PDF form then print.) These data show mean 9-month equated faculty salaries by rank and sex and by campus. In Table 2 (PDF 11 KB) the data from Table 1 (PDF 8 KB) have been adjusted using the fiscal year CPI described earlier. Table 2 (PDF 11 KB) figures are expressed in constant 1983 dollars with one exception. The final column was produced by inflating the difference between 1998-99 salaries and 1980-81 salaries, shown in the next to last column, to 1999 dollars.

As shown in the final column, there has been a dramatic increase in mean faculty salaries at the University of Missouri for nearly all ranks and at all campuses. For example, if the salaries of current full-professors at UM-Columbia were adjusted to the mean of 1976-77, over $13,000 would be subtracted from their annual pay. In addition, there have been real salary increases at very nearly all campuses, all ranks, and for both males and females. However, the increases have not been uniform. The salaries of full professors have increased more than the salaries of associate and assistant professors. For example, at the Rolla campus, the mean salary of full professors has increased over $21,000 (1999 $s) while the mean associate professor salary has increased about $12,000 and the mean assistant professor salary has increased less than $7,000. In addition, the mean salary of males within ranks has most often increased more than the mean for females in the same rank at the same campus. This differences were greatest at UM-Columbia and UM-Kansas City where the salaries of male full professors have increased about $4,000 more than female full professors. There may be many explanations for this gender difference, including disciplinary market trends over the period, and that examination would be very difficult to conduct retroactively due to the dearth of available data.

It should be noted that the time period shown here is only a part of that displayed in Figure 1 (PDF 5 KB) and Figure 2 (PDF 5 KB). Table 1 (PDF 8 KB) and Table 2 (PDF 11 KB) begin at a time when salaries were at a level fairly typical of salaries over the 25-year period, neither at or near a prior high or low point. This means that the increases shown in Table 1 (PDF 8 KB) and Table 2 (PDF 11 KB) represent reasonably well an improvement in faculty salaries generally. The answer to the first part of the question regarding faculty purchasing power is that faculty have fared well and real purchasing power has increased. The answer to the second question was suggested by comparing relative changes in salary by rank.

The pattern of change in relative faculty salaries is expressed both as a simple difference and as a ratio of the simple difference to the average difference over the 23-year period. Both statistics are shown in Table 2 (PDF 11 KB) where salaries are reported in 1983 dollars. The second statistic, the ratio measure, is also displayed graphically for the four campuses as Figure 7 (PDF 6 KB), Figure 8 (PDF 6 KB), Figure 9 (PDF 6 KB) and Figure 10 (PDF 6 KB). For example, at UM-Rolla, the 1976-77 difference in professors' and associate professors' salaries was about $6,800 1983 dollars. Over the entire 1976-77 to 1998-99 period, the mean difference was $9,039 1983 dollars. Therefore, in 1976-77, the difference between full and associate professors' salaries was a ratio of 0.8 or 80% of the long term average difference. In other words, the difference in average salaries for professors and associate professors in 1976-77 was less than the long term average. By following the plotted lines over the 23-year period, intervals of relative compression and expansion become clear. The use of a ratio statistic, as opposed to a simple dollar difference, also adjusts for differences in salary between faculty ranks.

The general trend is similar for all four campuses. There was a period of salary compression during the 1980s. During the 1990s the difference in faculty salaries by rank expanded. Across the 23-year period the difference between associate and assistant professors' mean salaries showed the greatest variance. At UM-Columbia, the large compression of faculty salary began in late 1970s and continued to mid 1980s when a pattern of continual increases began. The greatest difference in salary is between the associate and assistant professors with sharper compression and expansion. At the Kansas City campus there was compression of faculty salaries from late 1970s to mid 1980s and steady expansion from early 1990s. At the Rolla campus the compression of salary differences occurred between early and mid 1980s followed by slow salary expansion. Again, the most variance was in the pattern of difference between associate and assistant professors. At the St Louis campus the rank differences were the smallest of all campuses. There is, however, compression of salaries from late 1970s to 1980s and expansion from early 1990s.

Figure 11 (PDF 6 KB), Figure 12 (PDF 6 KB), Figure 13 (PDF 6 KB) and Figure 14 (PDF 6 KB) show the distribution of number of faculty between years 1976 and 1999. Disparities between number of males and females persist over the period despite the fact that the number of female faculty in the profession is increasing. At UM-Columbia the total number of female faculty rose from 12% in 1976 to 24% in 1999 with the highest increase at the associate professor rank. At the UM-Kansas City the percentage of female faculty increased from 19 in 1976 to 31 in 1999. The greatest increase was at the associate professor rank. Historically, there were always very few faculty females at the Rolla campus. In 1976, 2% of faculty were females and no female was in the professor rank. The percent of female faculty rose to 8% in 1999. At the St Louis campus the number of faculty females increased from 16% in 1976 to 35% in 1999 with the highest expansion at the associate professor rank and next highest at the professor rank. The number of faculty by rank and sex is displayed in Table 3.

Table 1: (PDF 6 KB) Average Faculty Salaries by Rank and Sex at the University of Missouri, 1980-81 through 1998-99

Table 2: (PDF 11 KB) Inflation Adjusted Average Faculty Salaries by Rank and Sex at the University of Missouri, 1980-81 through 1998-99

Table 3: (PDF 11 KB) Number of Faculty Reported by Rank and Sex at the University of Missouri, 1976-77 through 1998-99.

Figure 1: (PDF 5 KB) USA

Figure 2: (PDF 5 KB) UM

Figure 3: (PDF 6 KB) UMC

Figure 4: (PDF 6 KB) UMKC

Figure 5: (PDF 6 KB) UMR

Figure 6: (PDF 6 KB) UMSL

Figure 7: (PDF 6 KB) UMC

Figure 8: (PDF 6 KB) UMKC

Figure 9: (PDF 6 KB) UMR

Figure 10: (PDF 6 KB) UMSL

Figure 11: (PDF 6 KB) UMC

Figure 12: (PDF 6 KB) UMKC

Figure 13: (PDF 6 KB) UMR

Figure 14: (PDF 6 KB) UMSL

Reviewed 2011-02-16.