College Professor

Higher Education Salary Growth in 2023 Surpasses Pandemic-Era Inflation

New insights from a recent study conducted by CUPA-HR shed light on the salary landscape within higher education for the 2023-24 period. Notably, median pay increases continued their upward trajectory from the previous year, surpassing the inflation rate for the first time since 2019-20. Nevertheless, despite this positive trend, many employees in higher education are still grappling with salaries below their 2019-20 levels when adjusted for inflation.

The research underscores a significant disparity between pre-pandemic inflation-adjusted salaries and current ones, with tenure-track faculty experiencing the largest gap at 9.7% less, followed closely by non-tenure-track teaching faculty at 8.2% less. In contrast, staff members faced the smallest decline, with just a 0.3% reduction in real wages.
Delving deeper into the findings, it’s revealed that non-tenure-track teaching faculty saw their most substantial salary hike in the past eight years. Additionally, staff, typically non-exempt employees, witnessed the highest pay increase compared to other employee categories, mirroring the trend observed in the previous year. Conversely, tenure-track faculty remained at the bottom of the pay scale, with their salary increments failing to outpace inflation.

While most sectors within higher education observed salary hikes that outpaced inflation in 2023-24, these increases fell short of fully reversing the decline in purchasing power experienced by employees since 2019-20. Particularly concerning is the widening gap in pay increases, especially for faculty, exacerbating existing disparities within the higher education workforce. Despite the positive trajectory in salary growth, it’s evident that more concerted efforts are needed to address the erosion of purchasing power experienced by higher education employees since the onset of the pandemic.