Supply side fantasies and precarious part-time academic labor


  • Daniel Jacoby University of Washington, Bothell
  • Jonathan Boyette RTI Portland



Faculty, Precarious Academic Labor, Part-time Faculty, Supply, Higher Education, Employment Practices, Graduate Study, Job Security, Collective Bargaining


Reliance upon part-time instructors within U. S. post-secondary institutions has received a great deal of attention, particularly as the percentage of such faculty has become the largest single category of faculty in academia. Understanding how part-time markets operate may allow better policy. Most current studies on the subject examine national markets, and emphasize demand factors motivating expansion of the part-time workforce. Although the subject of supply was once critical to discussions it has received less attention of late in part due to a faulty understanding of how part-time markets operate. Cross sectional regression analysis is performed to explore potential correlations between the number of graduating masters and doctoral students and reliance upon part-time faculty at neighboring institutions of higher education. Where previous researchers have found that institutions in more urbanized settings exhibit greater reliance upon part-time faculty, this analysis indicates that local availability of recently minted masters and PhD degrees within commuting distances of the hiring institution more closely fits staffing data. Policy actors may be able to use these results to better coordinate regional or local demand to supply, which has implications for unions and other policy actors attempting to limit reliance upon part-time faculty.


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Author Biographies

Daniel Jacoby, University of Washington, Bothell

Jacoby is Professor in policy studies and economics at the University of Washington, Bothell. He is also UW Harry Bridges Endowed Chair in Labor Studies Emeritus. He is author of Laboring For Freedom, a new look at US labor history as well as numerous articles on apprenticeship, labor and education.

Jonathan Boyette, RTI Portland

Boyette graduated with a masters in Policy Studies from UW Bothell and has since worked as an analyst for RTI’s Education and Workforce Development group in Portand Oregon on educational issues.




How to Cite

Jacoby, D., & Boyette, J. (2020). Supply side fantasies and precarious part-time academic labor. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 28, 50.