Changes in Real Wage (updated)

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*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.

Annual Cumulative
Year Regional
CPI
3
SSC Reported
Average Salary
4
CPI-adjusted
Salary
5
Real Wage
% Change
6
CPI-adjusted
Salary
7
Real Wage
% Change
8
2012 214.706 $59,027
2013 217.462 $58,932 $59,785 -1.43% $59,785 -1.43%
2014 220.622 $58,203 $59,788 -2.65% $60,653 -4.04%
2015 220.476 $57,186 $58,164 -1.68% $60,613 -5.65%
2016 220.896 $55,863 $57,295 -2.50% $60,729 -8.01%
2017 223.417 $56,125 $56,501 -0.66% $61,422 -8.62%
2018 234.290 $58,630 $58,856 -0.38% $64,411 -8.98%

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]

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Priorities

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The Board of Trustees meeting minutes show that SSC President Para Jones was awarded a $40,000 performance bonus, authorized by the board on June 12, 2019. This bonus is in addition to the increase to base that will go to all full-time employees, as well as in addition to the $65,000 annual additional compensation given as a yearly retention incentive to the President.

Source: SSC Board of Trustees meeting 6/12/19, record of proceedings (minutes) via public records request

This was the same meeting in which the lump sum pay determination for employees was once again deferred while waiting for final revenues.

Source: SSC Board of Trustees meeting 6/12/19, record of proceedings (minutes) via public records request

It is curious that for several years faculty and staff have not received base salary raises in alignment with cost of living or other deductions like STRS or health insurance increases, and a portion has been moved to lump sum amounts that are contingent on revenue. We were originally told that lump sum payments instead of an increase to base would be a temporary measure, but they have been consistent inclusions in the board’s approved salary plans. All of this occurs under the umbrella of stated fiscal stability concerns, and yet a sizable presidential bonus which increases substantially each year does not evoke the same hesitation or concern.

Despite the consistent language of “valuing people” it seems quite clear where the priority in institutional values does and does not lie.

Another insurance cost increase

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In case you missed the latest college email announcement, there has been yet another rate increase in health insurance (medical) for the upcoming fiscal year. The increase is 3.25%. As we all wait for word about the increasingly diminishing possibility of getting a lump sum pay this summer per the terms of the Board’s salary plan, consider how this additional rate increase will affect you.

For your convenience, the table below contains a summary of changes in monthly and annual employee costs since 2017.

Changes in Real Wage

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Real wage refers to the value of wages adjusted for inflation. It is 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. For example, a recent economic report from Pew Research Center highlights a trend of stagnating real wages for most workers, even though nominal (unadjusted) paycheck dollars have risen: “For most U.S. workers, real wages have barely budged in decades“.

SSC has certainly not been exempt from this trend, and in fact we have experienced a greater decline in real wage than the national average. See the table below for a summary of these effects. We used reported IPEDS data for the college and the consumer price index for the local region 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 8.62% overall in this time period2. In other words: in order for it to have kept pace with the prior 5 years of inflation and provide the same purchasing power as it did in 2012, average salary for full-time faculty in 2017 should have been $61,422. For someone earning the actual average salary and on the typical year-round pay schedule, this loss in real wage equates to $192 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.

Annual Cumulative
Year Regional
CPI
3
SSC Reported
Average Salary
4
CPI-adjusted
Salary
5
Real Wage
% Change
6
CPI-adjusted
Salary
7
Real Wage
% Change
8
2012 214.706 $59,027
2013 217.462 $58,932 $59,785 -1.43% $59,785 -1.43%
2014 220.622 $58,203 $59,788 -2.65% $60,653 -4.04%
2015 220.476 $57,186 $58,164 -1.68% $60,613 -5.65%
2016 220.896 $55,863 $57,295 -2.50% $60,729 -8.01%
2017 223.417 $56,125 $56,501 -0.66% $61,422 -8.62%

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 7.08% 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  [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 [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]

Insurance cost increase

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Update 7/26: While the most recent college email regarding health insurance rates for full-time employees does not state it explicitly, health insurance costs have increased and will be reflected in payroll deductions for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. The increase is 6.85%. For your convenience, the table below contains a summary of changes in monthly and annual employee costs for 2017-2018 compared to 2018-2019.

Amounts drawn from payroll notification emails on 7/24/18 and 6/29/17

Update 7/25: Inexplicably, most employees did not receive the original email sent on 7/24 (pictured below) regarding health insurance rates. After the original message was shared by StarkAAUP, a separate and different email was sent to the college community this morning. Unlike the original message, however, the text of the latest email message does not mention the late timing of the announcement and it does not explicitly state that there has been an increase in cost.

Even if separate notifications were sent to employees who have different pay period schedules, it is unclear why these would be sent at different times regarding the same informational announcement. It is also unclear why the later message that was sent to the bulk of employees subsequently neglects to state that the listed rates represent an increase and to specify the amount of that increase.


Several colleagues have mentioned not receiving the 7/24/18 college email message regarding the announcement of increased health care cost that was referenced in our previous posts. For convenience and reference, we have posted the original message below for anyone who did not receive it (click to enlarge).

Compensation update

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Stark AAUP received confirmation today that SSC President Para Jones was awarded a 2% increase to base salary and a $35,000 performance bonus, authorized by the SSC Board of Trustees on June 28, 2018. This compensation information was not previously available and thus not reflected in the updated SSC salary index posted earlier last month. It has now been added to the 2018-2019 index for accuracy.

Source: SSC Board of Trustees meeting 6/28/18, unpublished record of proceedings (minutes) via public records request

Updates and questions from the Board minutes

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Update 7/24: A college email announcement was sent confirming that health care costs would be increasing 6.85% starting on the September 2018 pay. 

Update 6/29:
A college-wide email announcement was sent subsequent to our request for information regarding the new VP position. It appears that this was title and salary change by appointment, and there was no public hiring search to fill a job position. As of yet, no further associated division/department restructuring has been announced. It is unclear why this change was not announced to the college community in early May when it was approved, as is the standard practice when personnel or structural changes are pending.

Update 6/27:
We received the following from SSC in regard to our request for clarification on healthcare cost increase and when any known potential for increase would be announced to employees:

“The cost for the medical and dental insurance premiums are split between the employee (15%) and the College (85%). The COG’s board has to vote on the rates each year which is generally done in June with a July 1 effective date to correspond to the fiscal year. The COG has shared that the rates have increased 6.85%. Rates per pay have historically been distributed via email from payroll.”

As noted below a 10% increase was assumed in the fiscal year budget, but that figure is not a certainty yet. Yet it is something to be aware of as a distinct possibility (otherwise why budget for it?), particularly given that it impacts and offsets salary increases. For instance, current family medical cost is $251.04 monthly for employees. An increase of 10% in total insurance rate would equate to $276.14 monthly as the 15% employee share of the premium. It appears official notification of any increase will be made to employees only once a change is to go into effect.


Original post 6/25:
The recently-released minutes from the Stark State Board of Trustees meeting in May noted that  “Healthcare costs are assumed to increase ten percent as presented by Stark County Schools” in the FY 2019 budget. It is unclear when/if these increased costs are anticipated to take effect and whether or how an increase in such cost will affect SSC employees, as well as when and how these potential increases would be announced to the college community.

From the SSC Board of Trustees Record of Proceedings for May 9, 2018 section on New Business

From the minutes, it also appears that there will be a new division/department name: Advancement & Strategic Partnerships and/or Advancement & External Relations as well as a new VP for it, effective 7/1/2018. It is unclear from the minutes whether this represents only a name change (from Advancement, Marketing and SSC Foundation) or if it will involve any restructuring of any existing divisions or departments. It is also unclear if there was a public hiring search to fill the VP position.

From the SSC Board of Trustees Record of Proceedings for May 9, 2018 section on Personnel Actions

Stark AAUP has reached out to the college for clarification on these questions and will report back to our colleagues here with any information received. Also, the already-pending changes in job positions and division/dept name listed in the minutes were not included in the requested salary records received in June 2018. We will update the most recent 2018-2019 salary index page to reflect these changes as soon as the clarifying information is received.