Sunday, April 15, 2012

SUPPLEMENT TO BLOG ON DISMAL SCIENCE

One of my favorite readers called to suggest that the principle of lowering wages to increase employment might be applied at higher salary levels. We all know that academe is producing more PhDs than the academic market can afford to hire. But it can afford to hire more if it were to reduce the salaries of faculty members by the same percentage as Ashby proposes to reduce the salaries of minimum-wage workers.

Ashby has suggested a cut of 3.33 % for a salary based on the minimum wage (100 x $0.25/$7.50. On average, a UTEP assistant professor makes about $66,000 per year. A 3.33% reduction in salary would amount to about $2200. Is Ashby ready to take that cut to increase faculty employment in his department?

Ashby's department has nearly 60 faculty members, many of whom are not assistant professors and make, on average, more than they do. At a minimum, a 3.33% across-the-board cut in departmental faculty salaries would make it possible to hire at least two entry-level assistant professors and perhaps as many as four. There might even be change left over for a new coffeemaker in the faculty lounge.

This possibility has one other advantage. A 3.33% reduction in annual salary would not threaten any faculty member with falling below the poverty line as it would threaten a minimum-wage earner.

Perhaps Ashby's suggestion should start at the top of the salary structure and be applied down the salary scale across the nation until unemployment is reduced to about the economically desirable 4%.

Let us reason together on this possibility.

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