UI employees see higher average pay raises

BY BRIANNA JETT | MARCH 13, 2013 5:00 AM

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Slowly but surely, salary increases are outpacing inflation at the University of Iowa.

During the recession, faculty and staff at the UI saw very few pay raises. However, as the economy has improved, salary increases have as well.

In fiscal 2010, there were no raises at the UI.

“I would say that’s a pretty significant impact,” said Susan Buckley, the UI vice president for Human Resources.

In fiscal 2011, the average pay increase for faculty was 2.47 percent, and the average for professional staff was 2.84 percent. In fiscal 2012 the faculty average rose to 3.13 percent, and the professional staff average rose to 2.94. This year, fiscal 2013, the average for faculty is 2.38, and the average for professional staff is 2.46.

“It was the national economy as well as the state economy’s improvement,” Buckley said. “It helped us rebound from fiscal year ’10.”

Patrick Barron, a UI adjunct lecturer of economics, agreed that the state economy could have a large effect.

“It could be that the Iowa economy is doing better, and that’s what is affecting the pay raises,” he said.

Although it appears the numbers fell from fiscal ’12 to fiscal ’13, it is important to take into consideration inflation. If the Consumer Price Index rises at a faster rate than pay raises, Barron said, that the standard of living still decreases.

“If the UI gets a 2.5 percent pay increase, [for example] but the CPI is going up 3 percent, that means the prices are going up faster than your pay,” he said.

In 2011, the Consumer Price Index increased 3.79 percent, as opposed to 2012, when it rose only 1.32 percent.

Taxes can also impact how effective a pay raise is.

“Even if your pay is increasing faster than your CPI, your standard of living could still decline if you’re pushed into a higher tax bracket,” Barron said.

Pay increases at the UI are used for two reasons: to reward good work and to retain valuable employees.

“For faculty and professional staff, the increase is based primarily on performance, not longevity,” Buckley said.

Barron said that raises are important in the bigger picture.

“If the UI wants to remain a top-notch university, it has to stay competitive with other universities,” he said.

However, some faculty are not seeing the improvements yet.

Erika Ernst, a member of the Faculty Council and an associate professor of pharmacy, said she and her colleagues are still hoping to see the improvements.

“We haven’t seen much of the impact of the improving economy on wages,” she said.

Ernst said she believes the turnaround is coming, although she isn’t sure when.

“I think the issue is that it can be very unit specific,” she said. “Within the faculty, within particular departments, the department executive officer is going to have to balance promotions with rewarding faculty.”

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