Placements & Salaries 2012: Geography of Jobs

Salaries for new LIS graduates exhibited healthy growth that was dependent upon multiple factors, including regional differences such as relative cost of living and population density, while longitudinal data indicates that region plays a role in salary levels.
Salaries for new LIS graduates exhibited healthy growth that was dependent upon multiple factors, including regional differences such as relative cost of living and population density, while longitudinal data indicates that region plays a role in salary levels. Nationally, average starting salaries rose by 5% from $42,556 in 2010 to $44,565 in 2011, with the highest regional average in the West ($49,819). However, this same region also saw average starting salaries fall by 2% compared to the previous year ($50,792 in 2010), with nonlibrary agencies, including jobs with an information science focus, losing approximately 20% ($52,778 compared to $63,524). The Southeast held the winning hand in salary gains for 2011, increasing $2,934 (from $40,383 in 2010 to $43,317 in 2011). Contributing to the improvement was the slight rise in salaries at the low end of the scale and the significantly higher top-rank salaries ($110,000-$180,000).

Regionally, academic libraries in the Southeast had the best salary growth among all types of library and information agencies, with reported salaries $7,685 above levels achieved in 2010, for an average starting salary of $47,182. A major contributing factor was the better than average starting salaries for academic reference librarians in 2011 ($52,560, or 10.2% higher than salaries reported by all new academic librarians in the Southeast).

In 2010, the Midwest experienced the best overall wage growth and strongest placement rate; in 2011, these gains took a roller-coaster ride with both climbs and drops. Despite lingering economic hardship, the unemployment rate among LIS grads in the Midwest was the lowest at 3.3%. And though this region showed the strongest placement again with 27% of the total reported jobs, this was below the 2010 level of 36.1%. While the overall average salaries in the Midwest dipped by a slight 1.1% to $42,376, graduates claiming minority status in this same region experienced a nearly 13% rise in starting salaries, with an average of $45,489 compared to $39,609 in 2010. Another bright spot for Midwesterners was the climb in starting salaries for academic librarians, with an increase of approximately $2,554 annually, bringing the average to $40,744—more than recovering the loss between 2009 ($39,072) and 2010 ($38,190).

In all regions, including the Midwest, men reported meteoric gains in starting salaries, averaging 15.1% increases, ranging from 2.9% gains in the Midwest to 20.2% in the West. High salaries, topping $100,000, contributed to the much higher levels of achievement in 2011 as did an across-the-board increase in the lowest of the starting salaries among the men. (For more on the gender gap, see “Microcosms & Gaps”.)

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