Labor law changes will mandate a pay increase to around $47,000 to start for the nation’s postdoctoral fellows because of overtime rules that in most cases will lead to a bump in postdoc pay. It’s about time, right? However, despite good intentions, some concerns have been raised about this new change in terms of potential unintended negative consequences.
For instance, some worry that it could lead to fewer postdocs being employed. The change also comes at a time when many labs are scrambling financially to even continue to exist due to difficulties in getting grants.
Another issue is that the change must take place within a few months rather than over the course of a few years.
Finally, some have pointed to the fact that it has been “forever” as one scientist put it to me since NIH first implemented the $250,000 standard modular R01 budget. It has not kept up with biomedical inflation by a long shot, and in fact a large fraction of R01s requesting $250,000 don’t even get that level of funding since they are cut from day 1 in terms of length of funding and yearly funding amounts. As a result, today the salary of one lab employee plus benefits eats up a dramatically larger fraction of R01 funding than it used to say ten years ago.
Still postdocs absolutely need to be paid a fair wage for their expertise and hard work, and some have argued that a $50,000 salary would be more appropriate.
So how does one process all of this?
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