There is very little information available on how much postdocs are actually paid in the U.S., beyond data on institutional salary policies gathered by the National Postdoctoral Association. Following on from recent discussions about postdoc salaries changing as a result of proposed updates to U.S. Federal labor law, we have gathered data from a selection of institutions through Freedom of Information Requests, asking only for titles and salaries of postdocs, to see if we can identify actual postdoctoral salaries. The aggregate data, and more information, can be found at out “Investigating Postdoc Salaries” Resource. Every day, we will be releasing a discussion of each individual institution or system from which we received data. Today: Iowa State University.


Cost for FOIA Request: $0

Additional notes: Data Requested for both Dec 1st 2016 and Jan 1st 2017; names received for Dec 1st 2016 only.


Our initial request, as with all other institutions, was for the postdoc salary data on Dec 1st 2016. We received salaries for 68 postdocs, and excluded those which where the pay fraction did not equal 1, to give us a conservative set of 43 salaries, which are contained in the aggregate data set. The National Science Foundation’s data on science, engineering and health postdocs suggested we should have expected around 300 salaries.


We were informed that Iowa State was raising salaries on Dec 1st 2016, but planned to reduce them again on Jan 1st 2017, and so we repeated the Freedom of Information Request for Jan 1st 2017. The only part of the request that changed was the date.


It is difficult to make a comparison with the Dec 1st data, because the data received contained now a total of 286 salaries. We had not requested names of employees, but we received names for Dec 1st 2016, not for Jan 1st 2017. There was only one salary in our set for Dec 1st 2016 that was below the FLSA proposed minimum of $47,476; in Jan 1st, there were 111 salaries between $43,050 and $47,476. Whether these postdocs were missing from December or had their salaries lowered is not clear.


The salary policy for Iowa State is now to continue plans to raise salaries, but to lower levels than originally planned. The levels are stated here (beginning at $44,100 for 2017, $46,000 for 2018, and a proposal to raise to $48,000 in 2019).


Again, the only part of the FOIA request that changed between Dec 1st and Jan 1st was the date; it seems unlikely that Iowa State hired 200 postdocs in December 2016, but instead that even month-to-month, data reporting ability is not consistent.