A recent survey of full-time staff at the University of Wyoming indicates some rely on second jobs and public assistance to make ends meet.
Staff Senate President Renee Ballard said salaries have been static for years while the cost of living has increased. Ballard said she's heard from staff about living paycheck-to-paycheck and needing extra work as a result of below-market salaries.
"To be honest, I don't think your staff functions the best when you have those kinds of anxieties and stress in your life," said Ballard. "So if we can get them a better living wage where they are not feeling right on the edge like that, I think they'll perform better and work better for the university."
Ballard said UW President Laurie Nichols has been working with staff to address concerns about compensation. To help inform those efforts, Staff Senate surveyed UW workers to find out how many of them work a second or third job, and how many receive public or charitable assistance.
"There was just a larger percentage than we kind of anticipated that had second jobs, so that was a little surprising," Ballard said.
Of the 429 full-time workers surveyed, 39 percent had a second job, and 19 percent are currently receiving public assistance.
Ballard cautions that the survey results present a correlation but are not conclusive, because staff members weren't asked why they were picking up extra work. In the comments section of the survey, respondents talked about working additional jobs of out economic necessity, but Ballard said her second job is more of a hobby. In the future, Ballard would like to study what's motivating staff to take on another job.
This year, the State Legislature appropriated $2.7 million for salary increases. That amounts to a 2 percent pay increase. Ballard said that still leaves staff underpaid, but she's thankful that the UW administration and state lawmakers are taking action.