Interest in contingent academic labor has increased, especially after recent studies reporting that graduation rates fall with increases in the percentage of an institution’s faculty hired on a part-time or non-tenure track basis (Ehrenberg & Zhang, 2005; Jacoby 2005). So far however, there has been little quantitative research on the determinants of demand and supply for part-time academic labor. In this study we look at employment patterns at public community colleges; it is among these institutions that we find the most intensive use of part-time faculty.

This paper makes four distinct contributions. We advance the existing literature regarding the demand for part-time faculty by providing estimates of the mean annual earnings for part-time faculty by institution. Second, our estimates facilitate a theoretically appropriate estimate of the supply and demand for part-time faculty. Third, the study considers whether high production of graduate students increase part-time faculty employment in community colleges. Finally, the study informs the on-going debate over whether the inclusion of part-time faculty within collective bargaining units has a significant impact upon college employment practices.