*This is an update from an earlier post to add 2018 figures
Real wage refers to the value of wages adjusted for inflation, a useful economic measure of purchasing power in terms of the goods and services that can be bought in one time period compared to the relative price of the same goods and services in another time period.
SSC has not been exempt from the national trend of stagnating real wages for most workers, even when nominal (unadjusted) paycheck dollars may have risen. See the table below for a summary of these effects. We used reported IPEDS data for the college and the consumer price index to calculate what the average salary would be in order to keep pace with inflation, and the percent of this difference with respect to real wage. The annual columns show current year salary figures compared to prior year only, while the cumulative columns show current year salary compared to the benchmark year of 20121.
Real wages for faculty have dropped 8.98% overall in this time period2. In other words: in order for it to have kept pace with the prior years of inflation and provide the same purchasing power as it did in 2012, average salary for full-time faculty in 2018 should have been $64,411. For someone earning the actual average salary and on the typical year-round pay schedule, the loss in real wage equates to $222 less per paycheck.
Additionally, keep in mind that these figures include gross contract salary only–they do not incorporate taxes nor deductions such as the increases in employee STRS withholding or increased health care costs which have affected us all.
Average Salary 4
% Change 6
% Change 8
This is a significant pattern of decline, one that cannot be accounted for solely by changes in staffing numbers, new hires or exits, or rank classification of individuals. Meaningful cost of living increases have been absent, and we’ve collectively seen our wages erode further each year. In this context, it’s not necessarily surprising that FT overloads taught have increased and the #1 reason faculty reported for doing so is to increase pay. Also consider that faculty and staff have been consistently asked to increase workloads and “do more with less,” while students have watched their costs increase and their resources cut.
By its own reports, Stark State College is not and has not been in such a precarious fiscal position that would warrant a steady decline in employee wages. To the contrary, we’ve opened a new campus, expanded our programs, and the SSC Board of Trustees has annually recognized and rewarded college leadership for excellent performance and solid financial management. Are those gains coming at the expense of faculty, staff, and students?
(1) 2012 was selected as the starting comparison year because this is the time range most easily provided by and accessed through IPEDS. Conveniently, this is also the year after reallocation occurred, the effects of which are reflected in all subsequent salary figures. [back]
(2) Due to differences in the way IPEDS records instructional vs. non-instructional categories and pay data, reliable salary-only figures for SSC staff are more challenging to calculate. However, a preliminary rough analysis suggests that staff have experienced a similar decline in real wages: approximately 7.58% decrease overall during the same time period. [back]
(3) Data obtained from Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index https://www.bls.gov/cpi/research-series/home.htm#CPI-U-RS%20Data; All urban consumers, all items, Cleveland-Akron OH, 2012-2017; All urban consumers, all items, Midwest Region 2018 [back]
(4) Data obtained from the National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/use-the-data reported financial data for Stark State College: Average salary equated to 9 months of full-time instructional staff, all ranks, 2011-2012 to 2016-2017; Data feedback report for 2018 [back]
(5) Calculation for annual CPI-adjusted salary: (Prior year reported average salary * Current year regional CPI) ÷ Prior year regional CPI [back]
(6) Calculation for annual change in real wage: (Current year reported average salary – annual CPI-adjusted salary) ÷ annual CPI-adjusted salary [back]
(7) Calculation for cumulative CPI-adjusted salary: (2012 reported average salary * Current year regional CPI) ÷ Prior year regional CPI [back]
(8) Calculation for cumulative change in real wage: (Current year reported average salary – cumulative CPI-adjusted salary) ÷ cumulative CPI-adjusted salary [back]