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Press Release

Cleveland Fed economist’s research on employment trends at colleges both supports, and disputes, popular beliefs

In a new study, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland economist Peter Hinrichs explores employment trends between 1987 and 2013 across three types of colleges and universities: public, not-for-profit private, and for-profit. In line with conventional wisdom, he finds that a declining proportion of college faculty are full-time employees. However, counter to popular belief, Hinrichs shows that the share of college employees who are executives, administrators, or managers has not changed appreciably over time.

Examining college employment by occupational category, Hinrichs finds that faculty is the largest group (comprising 40 percent of total employees in 2011), and it has been growing relative to the other groups. The researcher also finds that the “other professionals” grouping – including a broad set of workers such as human resources specialists, computer specialists, lawyers, and librarians – grew from 18% of employees in 1987 to 26% in 2011. “The growth of this category suggests that there has been an increase in the number of support staff who themselves are college educated,” says Hinrichs.

Meanwhile, the share of employees who are in the clerical and secretarial category has steadily fallen, says the researcher, while shares in the other occupational categories have remained roughly flat.

Hinrichs also notes differences in employment by college type. For example, the percentage of full-time faculty is higher in the public sector than in the private sector, which is in turn higher than in the for-profit sector. Another difference, according to Hinrichs, is that for-profits employ virtually no research staff.

Read Trends in Employment at U.S. Colleges and Universities, 1987-2013.

Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks that along with the Board of Governors in Washington DC comprise the Federal Reserve System. Part of the US central bank, the Cleveland Fed participates in the formulation of our nation’s monetary policy, supervises banking organizations, provides payment and other services to financial institutions and to the US Treasury, and performs many activities that support Federal Reserve operations System-wide. In addition, the Bank supports the well-being of communities across the Fourth Federal Reserve District through a wide array of research, outreach, and educational activities.

The Cleveland Fed, with branches in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, serves an area that comprises Ohio, western Pennsylvania, eastern Kentucky, and the northern panhandle of West Virginia.

Media contact

Doug Campbell,, 513.218.1892