GBN's Salary Analysis
Like many people, I try not to think too much about the
relationship between my work and the pay I get. But occasionally I
get curious, especially when I hear news about the rising cost of
I am now in my 11th year as a professional college professor.
I started in 1991 as an Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of
Library and Information Science (GSLIS)
at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. My starting salary
This analysis looks at 10 years of salary and inflation
data, from 1991 - 2001. (See below for an 11th year update.)
My 2000-2001 salary in the School of Information and Library
Science (SILS) in the University
of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was $56,425.
News flash: I received notification of my salary for 2002-2003 on
November 25, 2002. I received a 2% increase, from $58,179 to $59,343.
The inflation calculator at the BLS says inflation from 2001 to 2002
was 2.37%. More analysis is forthcoming.
For 1991-2001 only, let's take a look at my salary advancement over
||5.25% per year
|Inflation (based on the Consumer Price Index
|Based on the BLS inflation calculator,
||$37,000 in 1991
||equals $47,750 in 2001
|Cost of living comparison
from Homefair.com, 28% difference
|$56,425 Urbana, IL
||requires $72,224 in Chapel Hill, NC
What do these numbers mean? It depends on how you want to interpret
them. Several interpretations:
- My 10 years of experience has increased my real,
inflation-adjusted salary by 18.2% ($56,425 / $47,750). In constant
1991 dollars, this would be the same as a raise from $37,000 to
- Because I relocated (and got a salary increase when I did), my
cost of living changed. My current $56,425 salary would need to be
28% greater in Chapel Hill to be consistent with a $56,425 salary if I
had stayed in Urbana (and were receiving the same salary),
or $72,224 ($56,425 * 1.28).
- Conversely, according to the Homefair cost of living calculator,
my $56,425 salary in Chapel Hill is consistent with a $48,306 salary
in Urbana. Examined this way, my real, cost of living-adjusted salary
increase over 10 years is $11,306 ($48,306 - $37,000) or a 30.5%
increase (NOT taking inflation into account).
- Let's combine both inflation and cost of living. My cost of
living-adjusted salary in Chapel Hill 2001 is equivalent to 30.5% more
than my cost of living-adjusted salary in Urbana 1991. Inflation
during the same period has been 29%. This means my inflation and cost
of living-adjusted salary should be $62,314 if I were living in Urbana
($48,306 * 1.29), or $93,168 ($72,224 * 1.29) for living in Chapel
Hill, assuming a 18.2% inflation-adjusted increase in salary.
- Based on both cost of living and inflation, my current salary of
$56,425 is $36,743 (39.5%) less than a 18.2% increase should be.
- Alternatively, my actual increase in salary from 1991 to 2001
adjusted for cost of living and inflation is:
|my numeric dollar salary increase
||$19,425||= $56,425 - $37,000|
|adjusted for inflation to give constant 2001 dollars
||$8695||= $56,425 - ($37,000 * 1.29)|
|adjusted for cost of living
||$6260||= $8695 * .72|
- The net increase is thus 11.1% ($6260 / $56425) in
inflation-adjusted 2001 dollars accounting for cost-of-living
change from Urban to Chapel Hill.
For the 2002 academic year, my salary was increased $625 + 2%, from
$56,425 to $58,179. The $625 was the state-mandated increase for
faculty. The 2% was the across-the-board increase allocated to each
academic unit. In the letter informing me of this increase, my Dean
wrote there were no differentiations based on merit, therefore all
faculty would receive approximately the same percentage increase in
Consider: For the most highly paid faculty ($122,728 for
2000-2001), 2% is an increase of $2455. For me, the 2% increase is
$1129, less than half as much. In my opinion, equity would have been
spreading the total 2% increase for the school equally across all
faculty members, instead of giving faculty with the highest salaries
the largest pay raise.
The BLS Inflation Calculator indicated inflation of 2.48% during
the 2001 calendar year (update: later, they adjusted it to 2.85%).
I'm happy to report that my total increase in compensation for
2001-2002 is 3.11%, putting me ahead of inflation.
- Homefair only gives current cost of living comparisons. I've
compared the cost of living in 1991 to the cost of living in 2001,
but using 2001 data.
- At both Urbana and Chapel Hill, my contract is for the 9-month
academic year. By teaching summer school and getting occasional
grants, I have increased my annual salary by up to 18% in some years.
These calculations only include my base 9-month salary.
- There were many reasons to leave Urbana for Chapel Hill. I don't
wish to imply that I somehow wish I were still in Urbana: I don't!
- There are serious questions about the utility of both the CPI and
cost of living comparisons. For example, the CPI looks at
seldom-purchased items such as washing machines, rather than weighting
more realistic weekly purchases. The cost of living adjustments are
based on a variety of factors (including, notably, state and local
taxes), including some which might not be relevant for everyone.
- We don't live in Chapel Hill (we couldn't afford to), we live
in a house we built in Efland, about 17 miles west of Chapel Hill.
- A main reason for moving to Chapel Hill was so Ilana could
have better job prospects. Her current income, combined with the fact
that all of our student loans are finally paid, means that our
overall combined "buying power" has increased.
- Executive salaries in Library and Information Science is compared
annually. From the 2000 ALISE statistical report: "A decade ago five
deans and directors reported salaries in excess of $90,000, with the
highest being $110,400. For 2000 twenty-five deans and directors
reported salaries above $90,000. Last year, five deans and directors
reported salaries of $120,000 or more with the highest being over
$159,000. All in this category were in US schools. Seven schools
reported executive salaries in the range of $100,000 to $119,000. In
1999-00, eleven deans and directors reported salaries of $120,000 or
more with the highest being $200,000. All in this category were in US
schools. Ten schools reported executive salaries in the range of
$100,000 to $119,000. As has been noted, salary differences are
influenced in part by rank."
- ALISE also produces salary statistics for professors at different
ranks. The mean reported salary in 1999-2000 for assistant professors
is $56,747, the median is $54,626. For new (1st year) assistant
professors, the mean is $56,646, the median is $50,125.
- UNC has its own salary data. For the 1999-2000 academic year,
the latest for which data are published, assistant professor faculty
salaries in SILS are $51,311 (median) and $51,028 (mean). See Table
30 in the UNC
Statistical Fact Book.
- We have an internal SILS faculty committee, which reports results
somewhat more accurately than UNC (because we know better who the
full-time faculty are). For 2000-2001, mean figures for salaries
were: $100,831 (full professor, not including the dean), $65,620
(associate professor) and $55,033 (assistant professor). These
amounts do not include supplements given to chaired professors and
associate deans, I understand.
- For 2000-2001, the Dean of SILS (my boss) made $141,960, which is
about 2.5 times my salary. Note she has a 12-month appointment,
versus my 9-month appointment.
Created March 29, 2001
Most recent update: November 26, 2002