Phillip W. Magness

U.S. Economic & Political History

The Decline of the Adjunct Workforce

| May 28, 2018

A little under three years ago I posted a brief comment about some stats I was compiling for an article on the higher ed workforce. The post investigated a myth that was popular at the time and remains so today, namely that adjunct employment had grown to encompass an astounding 76% of the higher ed […]

How the AAUP bends statistics to create an adjunct crisis

| April 13, 2017

Earlier this week the American Association of University Professors released its annual report on the economic status of academia. Repeating a theme from prior years, this report heavily emphasizes the position of adjunct faculty and makes a number of bold empirical claims about the alleged growth of the part time academic workforce. For example, the statement […]

Further debating Adjunct Justice

| April 4, 2017

Economist Steven Shulman recently authored a rebuttal of sorts to the first of two articles that Jason Brennan and I wrote on the subject of adjunct justice. If nothing else he deserves credit for doing so in a submission to a scholarly journal, where this conversation needs to take place. Most adjunct “activists” have thus far avoided […]

How many adjuncts are there in not-for-profit higher ed?

| June 29, 2016

Counting adjunct faculty is a strangely politicized topic, replete with bad information and even outright false statistical claims. Media reporting of the subject routinely repeats the false claim that adjuncts make up about three fourths of the academic workforce. Adjunct activist organizations such as the “New Faculty Majority” even incorporate this claim into their name. […]

Adjunct Activists and the Terminal Degree Problem

| May 26, 2016

Most adjunct professors in the United States lack a PhD or other comparable terminal degree. Surveys of the past decade have consistently attested to this fact, indicating that only between 18% and 30% of current adjunct faculty possess a doctorate. Many of those faculty who do hold terminal credentials are highly qualified scholars. A portion of […]

Is Administrator Bloat an Adjunct Pot of Gold?

| March 24, 2016

“What about university administrator bloat?” This question is commonly posed in conjunction with the adjunct activist movement, and usually identified as an “obvious” source for funding that could be reallocated to other purposes. And it might well be suitable for reallocation, though as Jason Brennan and I showed it is not obvious that adjuncts deserve […]

Adjunct activists seek to codify age-discrimination against younger academics

| February 21, 2016

The adjunct activist movement is currently mobilizing its forces behind a new “adjunct relief” bill in the California legislature, AB 1690. The proponents of this bill are portraying it as a much-needed “job security” measure for part time contract faculty at state-run higher ed institutions (in this case the California community college system). The bill […]

An Adjunct’s Guide to Calculating Your Hourly Wage Equivalent

| September 30, 2015

A few months back I ran a few basic calculations that refuted the myth of the “minimum wage adjunct” by showing that an adjunct faculty member would have to spend an absurdly high number of hours on out-of-class preparation time and grading to even approach an hourly equivalent wage that fell below the minimum wage. I revisited […]

The Myth of the “Adjunctification” of Full-Time Faculty

| September 19, 2015

The recent and ongoing debate about the state of the U.S. academic workforce is, unfortunately, dominated by a number of aggressively asserted myths that have little basis in empirical evidence. In previous posts, I have debunked a number of these recurring claims including the “myth of the minimum wage adjunct” and the “myth of the 76% adjunct […]

What’s really behind “adjunctification” in U.S. higher ed?

| August 24, 2015

In my last two posts I dissected some of the statistical trends of the U.S. higher ed job market, particularly as they pertain to the growth of part-time faculty over the past 40 years. As I noted the other day, most discussions about this topic are fraught with misconceptions and mythology, such as the claim that three […]