by Joseph Coletti
Senior Fellow, Fiscal Studies, John Locke Foundation
Laura Wright, an English professor at Western Carolina, opines in today’s Raleigh News & Observer, “For more than a decade, the salary stranglehold on UNC system faculty has been perpetuated by our state’s legislature and ignored by the media. Flat wages over such a long period actually constitute cuts in annual salaries.” She then blames this on the Republican General Assembly, even though Republicans did not gain a legislative majority until the 2011 session. If wages have been stagnant for more than a decade, this is a bipartisan problem, just as any complaints about K-12 funding and outcomes would also date back well before 2011.
The National Center for Education Statistics provides access to data on all colleges and universities in the US through its Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). IPEDS only has data on university pay back to the 2012-13 school year and up to the 2018-19 school year.
Over those six years from 2012 to 2018, universities added 749 instructional faculty members, a 7% increase, and average salaries for instructional faculty increased 5%. Non-instructional staff grew by 3,325 people, an 11% increase, and their salaries increased 15%. It looks like school administrators may have more to explain than the General Assembly.