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Salary Survey finds hourly wage increases outpaced salaried increases

The 2021 NACUFS Salary Benchmarking Survey shows an average increase of 1.78% for salaried positions but an average hourly wage increase of 12.96% between 2018 and 2020.

The National Association of College & University Food Services (NACUFS) has released the results from its 2021 Salary Benchmarking Survey, which biannually tracks and measures compensation for 33 positions within collegiate foodservice, from the director/executive level to a student foodservice worker. The survey found respondents reporting an average salary increase of 1.78% while a comparison between 2018 and 2020 indicates an average hourly wage increase of 12.96%.

Among specific salaried positions, the median salary for the director of foodservice title was reported at $108,665 with a high of $136,656, while the associate director title had a median of $90,000 with a high of $107,000 and the assistant director title reported a $74,590 median with a high of $89,460. The highest title surveyed—director/executive director, which encompasses senior administrators overseeing management of support or auxiliary services that typically includes foodservice and one or more other auxiliary services—had a median salary of $153,000 with a high of $165,000.

Compensation across hourly positions saw incremental change for 2021 with a median hourly wage range of $14.33 to $16.10 depending on position.

The survey also tracked staffing approaches to the COVID pandemic and found that 38.5% of respondents said they did not furlough, lay off or terminate employees in response to the crisis. Additionally, 43.8% said they experienced a pay freeze or no planned/anticipated increase or decrease during COVID-19 while 39.1% reported pay changes occurred as usual during the period. Curiously, 2.9% said they experienced an increase in institution-wide pay because of the pandemic.

“The data in NACUFS’ salary survey indicate that foodservice jobs in the college and university sector are solid, secure positions at hourly and management levels,” commented NACUFS Chief Executive Robert Nelson in a statement accompanying release of the results. “When one considers benefits and scheduling or holiday options, the college and university sector offers some of the best foodservice professional employment opportunities.”  

In releasing the results, NACUFS noted that all data provided is dependent on a variety of data sets that include all institutions, region, community size, annual foodservice revenue, public/private status, two-year/four-year structure, self-operated/contract managed and the number of full-time equivalent employees.

Correction: August 17, 2021
This article has been updated to reflect corrections issued by NACUFS relating to the hourly wage increase percentage being reported.
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