State of adjuncting two years ago
I came across this study that looked at the raw numbers for 2003--2004. On the surface, this article indicates that things are going well. More faculty are being hired (7.1% increase in instructional hires), the pay is good ($87k on average), and life is reasonably good.
I looked a bit more, and I found that although direct instructional hires increased from 2003 to 2004, there was no indication in the numbers as to the increased job function. That is, where there more faculty, tt, or adjuncts hired?
The other numbers tell the fuller story. Of instructors (anyone with class face-time), only an average of around 20% (the average is higher at public institutions at around 25%; for-profits drops to 0.6--no tenure at UofAdjunct). An additional 10% are on tenure track, which means that at a given university (these are 4 year numbers--the 2 year are comparable with slightly lower tenure tracks in the pipeline) only 1 in 4 instructors has tenure.
The numbers are hard to make out how many "instructors" (their title) are full-time and how many are adjuncts (which can be full time or part time: depending on the number of courses taught). It does indicate that on average a little over half of the instructors do not have faculty status. I can only guess that this is code for adjunct or adjunct-like status (one year contract, etc.).
So, two years ago a PhD would more than likely be working in a "without faculty status" position.
Just a reminder, there are no benefits as an adjunct. No health insurance, no 401k, nothing. With all of the ado about Wal-mart in the last year, I am surprised that an industry like higher ed, which has a similar hiring practice, escapes notice...especially when those same academics decrying Wal-mart are the ones shlepping off to teach their middling courses.