Recent data demonstrate that faculty across the country are unable to make ends meet. Despite ever-rising tuition, nearly a third of part-time faculty are living below or near poverty.

Check out the highlights below and down and (Click here for a PDF of the factsheet and citations.)

Below Poverty

  • Part-time faculty are more likely to be in poverty than the average Americans, ranging from 9% in Nevada to 43% in Maine.
  • 1 in 5 part-time faculty members live below the poverty line.
    • 22% of part-time faculty live below the poverty line, while 14.5% of Americans live in poverty (2013).
  • 1 in 10 part-time faculty live below the poverty line in 44 states and the District of Columbia.
  • 1 in 5 part-time faculty live below the poverty line in 31 states and the District of Columbia.
  • 1 in 4 part-time faculty live below the poverty line in 16 states.

Near or Below Poverty

  • 31% of part-time faculty have an income that is less than 150% of the federal poverty level.
    • 14% of all faculty (including full-time) live below or near the poverty line.
  • The percentage of part-time faculty living near or below the poverty line ranges from 14% in New Jersey to 51% in Utah.
    • 1 in 5 part-time faculty live near or below the poverty line in 42 states and the District of Columbia.
    • 1 in 3 part-time faculty live near or below the poverty line in 22 states.
  • 10 percent of all faculty (part-time and full-time) live near or below poverty in 42 states and the District of Columbia.

Taxpayers are subsidizing low-wage education employers who don’t pay livable wages.

Enrollment in Public Assistance

  • 1 in 4 families of part-time faculty are enrolled in one or more public assistance programs (25% of part-time faculty).
    • 7% of families of part-time faculty members are enrolled in Medicaid and 6% are enrolled in Children’s Health Insurance Program.
    • 7% of families of part-time faculty members receive food stamp benefits.
    • 1 in 5 families of part-time faculty receive Earned Income Tax Credit payments (20% of part-time faculty).
  • Families of close to 100,000 part-time faculty members are enrolled in public assistance programs.
  • The high participation rate among families of part-time faculty members can be attributed to low wages, lack of benefits and lack of job security.

Cost of Public Assistance Programs

  • The taxpayer cost of public assistance for families of part-time faculty is nearly half billion per year ($468 million).
  • More than half of these costs, or a total of $274 million per year, is spent on Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Due to low earnings, families of part-time faculty receive an annual total of $53 million in food stamp benefits, $146 million in Earned Income Tax Credit payments and $3 million a year for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits.

Source: Faculty Forward


  1. What’s going on with that graphic? Is it just artwork? There’s no explanation of the X axis and no key for the colored bars.


    • Sorry, the x axis got cut off when uploaded. It’s trends in full-time and part-time appointments in academia, by year. The first column, which is going down each year, is full time.The fourth column, growing steadily each year, is part-time.


  2. I’m having trouble understanding you explicitation of what the figure should look like. I think it would be simpler if you just fixed it.


  3. I had thought that the percentage of non-TT faculty, NOT including “graduate student employees” (i.e. graduate students OF that institution where they are teaching; not adjuncts of any kind who are still finishing their PhDs) was closer to 75% (76% is the number often quoted), rather than 15.7 + 41.5 = 57.2%. Collecting this data is absolutely essential to our efforts. There are scattered sources of data here and there, but who is collecting all these sources and making sense of them properly? I am starting to think it is a waste of my time to even read these articles that present the data, because I can’t make sense of them.
    The latest data on this chart are from 2011, not 2014 or 2015. Is that the explanation of why it’s not closer to 76%? Or what is going on?


    • So it would seem as if GSI’s are not included at all in the percentages you are citing but are included above. If you drop the GSI’s from the total above for 2011, then divide 57.2 by the remaining 80.7, you get 71% which is in the ballpark of the 76% you are saying. Factor in that we are dividing rounded percentages rather than raw numbers and its now 2016 and not 2011, and I think that’s your answer.


  4. PS everyone: WHERE are 2 or 3 key charts that present the latest data, ideally for both the US and Canada? And/or WHERE is the definitive adjunct-crisis website that is ONLY concerned with collecting and presenting this data, so that it is in a convenient place for all of us so that we can cite it when we make our arguments?


  5. KK, let us know when you find this site, or if you want to look into it and put together these charts, I’d be happy to publish them here. Thanks!


  6. dushkopetrovich, Ok, I’m happy to post when and if I find it, but my question was rhetorical and meant to suggest that we need to create such a site, and/or that whoever is involved with collecting the data needs to make it available on such a site or create said site. But meanwhile, what’s the explanation for the discrepancy between 57% and 76%?


  7. Benny Zuccarello // December 18, 2015 at 2:41 am // Reply

    This situation is a disgrace. The Universities are becoming ‘Walmart’s w/employee’s earning poverty level wages having to be subsidized by the government. It should be against the law to maintain a workforce that must rely on public assistance, but the WALMART’s of the world have the state/federal legislators paid-off.
    Highly educated people earning poverty level wages in the USA is a disgrace especially at Universities where the author is teaching:Yale,BC etc…..Do the Universities advertise that the classes are taught by ‘part-time’, under paid staff?
    Students should dis-enroll as they are getting short changed for outrageous tuition costs.


  8. Please be aware, this is part of a globalization process that likely will become much more stressful because of the push to liberalise services, skilled professions like education and health care are basically tradeable commodities across borders “now wage parity requirement” (its under attack as a trade barrier0 Only least developed countries are going to be allowed to discriminate in such ways. Do you follow? Who can say no to giving “real” poor people (I.e. from LDCs) those jobs? Welcome to globalisation. People are chips in a global job trading game that has been in the planning stages for 20 years but is really only beginning. GATS, the 1990s era “General Agreement on Trade in Services” has a two part test by which services are evaluated, and most – education and health care in the US definitely, must be privatized. TiSA is reinforcing the deal. Did Americans get the memo? No. This also applies to health care jobs and its the real reason American health care cannot get better. Right now, unlike anywhere else, the GATS and the attack on education is actually being discussed- a discussion we in the US should have had 25 years ago- in India. Can you break through the information blockade? Will you even get this message? Or understand it?


    “For the purposes of this Agreement…

    (b) ‘services’ includes any service in any sector except services supplied in the exercise of governmental authority;

    (c) ‘a service supplied in the exercise of governmental authority’ means any service which is supplied neither on a commercial basis, nor in competition with one or more service suppliers.”


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