Hiring Trend: Mostly More
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the total number of staff employed at postsecondary institutions in the United States grew by 22 percent between 1993 and 2003. That increase easily outpaced the 13 percent growth within the civilian labor force during the same time. The NCES report, “Changes in Staff Distribution and Salaries of Full-Time Employees in Postsecondary Institutions: Fall 1993–2003,” is based on census data provided by 3,186 degree-granting U.S. institutions surveyed in both 1993 and 2003. In examining the changes that occurred between fall 1993 and fall 2003, the NCES study identifies a number of key trends about higher education hiring practices.
More professionals: The growth in the total number of professional staff exceeded that of nonprofessional staff. While staff in all professional positions (professional support/service—45 percent; instruction/research assistant—45 percent; executive, administrative, and managerial—28 percent; and faculty—26 percent) increased at rates higher than the national average (22 percent) between 1993 and 2003, the total number of their nonprofessional counterparts as a whole showed little growth (1 percent). Staff in skilled crafts positions, as well as those in service/maintenance, actually decreased in number (2 percent for both). The report notes that the barely noticeable increase in nonprofessional staff and the decline in skilled crafts positions may reflect cost-control strategies adopted by colleges and universities in the 1990s to outsource the services of nonprofessional support personnel, while protecting the academic core (i.e., faculty, executive, administrative, and managerial, and instruction/research assistant positions).
More women in more places: The rate at which female staff outnumbered male staff increased only slightly, from 52 percent in 1993 to 53 percent in 2003, but during this time their distribution increased. The total number of states (including the District of Columbia) where the proportion of female staff rounded to at least 50 percent increased from 38 states in 1993 to 49 states in 2003, with Utah and Idaho being the only two states where females made up less than half of the workforce on college and university campuses.
More diversity: Reflecting the growth of racial and ethnic minorities in the general U.S. population, the increase in the total numbers of Hispanic (61 percent), Asian (63 percent), and American Indian (45 percent) staff at postsecondary institutions all outpaced the increase of White (13 percent) and Black (14 percent) employees between 1993 and 2003—both of which were below the national average (22 percent). Despite the increases in staff from racial/ethnic minorities, compared with the U.S. population in general, Whites were still somewhat overrepresented on postsecondary campuses in 2003: 72 percent versus 68 percent in the U.S. resident population. In contrast, in both years, Hispanics were proportionally underrepresented in the postsecondary workforce compared with the U.S. resident population: 4 percent versus 10 percent in 1993, and 5 percent versus 12 percent in 2003.
More part-timers: The rate of growth of part-time employees was twice that of full-time employees (34 percent versus 17 percent), continuing a trend of increased use of part-time employees on postsecondary campuses that started in the 1970s. The shift toward the use of part-time employees held across all types of institutions and by gender and racial/ethnic groups (except for Asian staff and staff with unknown race/ethnicity).
Many more part-time faculty: The part-time trend was particularly evident among faculty whose part-time employment grew almost three times that of full-time faculty positions (44 percent versus 15 percent). The report concludes that because this part-time pattern will likely continue into the future, part-time faculty may eventually emerge as the majority among faculty on postsecondary campuses.
The full NCES report, released in August 2006, is available at no cost on the NCES Web site.