Is it getting better? Inflation and Archaeology Wages

Posted on October 11, 2012

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I am currently writing up an article for The Archaeologists on inflation and wages for UK archaeologists. I am a big fan of peer review (in the sense that people give constructive feedback, not the your cool enough to publish in our journal kind of review) so I thought I would give a sneak peak at some of the numbers now. If anyone has some feedback I would be very happy to have some. Here is the first section (I will post the other sections over the next couple of days):

We are fast approaching over two decades of detailed information on pay for archaeologists in the United Kingdom e.g. Aitchison & Anderson 1995; Tuner 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999; Malcolm 2000, 2001; Drummond-Murray 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008; Rocks-Macqueen 2011, 2012. This data shows that in the last two decades there has been a steady increase in pay for archaeologists, though some positions have done better than others. Yet, it is not uncommon to hear a on any given day to hear an archaeologists say, “I made more as a digger in the 1990s than I do now because of inflation” or a version of that statement. This article investigates the effects of inflation on pay rates for archaeologists.

There are two measures of inflation in the United Kingdom, the Retail Price Index (RPI) and the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The CPI calculates inflation based on the average price increase for a basket of 600 different goods and services. At the middle of each month information on prices of these commodities are collected from 120,000 different retailing outlets. While the RPI is based on the Living Costs and Food Survey which samples approximately 6,000 responding households per year. The households are visited by an interviewer, and information is collected about income and regular expenditure, such as household bills and mortgage payments. A set of weights are then calculated, based on the relative importance of the items in the average family budget, and applied to each item to get an overall rate. The difference between how the CPI and RPI calculates the price of a good tends to result in slightly different calculations of inflation.

Wages from the Jobs in British Archaeology were used to determine the increase in wages for different positions (see past issues of the JBA for definitions of what each position is) and this is compared against the annual inflation rates for CPI and RPI in Table 1 which was obtained from the Office of National Statistics Data Selector . The results showed that some years were better than others for archaeologists and some positions did better than others. A better way to visualise these results is to look at these results not by individual years but by the difference between current average advertised wages and wages if they had followed inflation forward from a given year. For example if you started as an excavator in 1994 you would have started with £8,741 annual wage. If wages had followed inflation you would now make between £12,500- 14,275 while the actual pay, average advertised wage, is now currently £16,600, a gain of £2-4000 over inflation. Likewise if you had started as a field officer in 2008 you should make around £23,200-400 now, assuming pay follows inflation, but the actual average advertised pay is £21,800, roughly a loss of £1500 in wages.

Works Cited:

Aitchison, K. R. & Anderson S. M. 1995, Jobs in British

Archaeology The Field Archaeologist No 22 Spring.

Tuner, R. 1996, Jobs in British Archaeology

The Field Archaeologist No 25 Spring

Tuner, R. 1997, Jobs in British Archaeology

The Archaeologist No 29 Summer

Tuner, R. 1998, Jobs in British Archaeology

The Archaeologist No 31 Spring

Tuner, R. 1999, Jobs in British Archaeology

The Archaeologist No 34 Spring

Malcolm, G. 2000, Jobs in British Archaeology

The Archaeologist No 37 Spring

Malcolm, G. 2001, Jobs in British Archaeology

The Archaeologist No 40 Spring

Drummond-Murray, J. 2002, Jobs in British Archaeology

The Archaeologist No 43 Winter

Drummond-Murray, J. 2003, Jobs in British Archaeology

The Archaeologist No 47 Winter

Drummond-Murray, J. 2004, Jobs in British Archaeology

The Archaeologist No 51 Winter

Drummond-Murray, J. 2005, Jobs in British Archaeology

The Archaeologist No 56 Spring

Drummond-Murray, J. 2006, Jobs in British Archaeology

The Archaeologist No 59 Spring

Drummond-Murray, J. 2007, Jobs in British Archaeology

The Archaeologist No 66 Winter

Drummond-Murray, J. 2008, Jobs in British Archaeology

The Archaeologist No 68 Summer

Rocks-Macqueen, D. 2011, Jobs in British Archaeology

The Archaeologist No 82 Winter

Rocks-Macqueen, D. 2012, Jobs in British Archaeology

The Archaeologist No 84 Summer

 

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