​State Employees Really Paid More

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June 18, 2012

State Employees Really Paid More – As pro-union protesters erupt across the country on who gets paid more, USA Today just released analysis on state employees that may cause a backlash against public unions. The findings? In 41 states, they “earn higher average pay and benefits” than private workers in each respective state.

“The analysis of government data found that public employees’ compensation has grown faster than the earnings of private workers since 2000. Primary cause: the rising value of benefits.
Wisconsin is typical. State, city and school district workers earned an average of $50,774 in wages and benefits in 2009, about $1,800 more than in the private sector. The state ranked 33rd in public employee compensation among the states and Washington, D.C. It had ranked 20th in 2000,” the paper reports.

Among the key findings:

  • California. Public employee compensation rose 28% above the inflation rate from 2000 to 2009 to an average of $71,385 in 2009.
  • Nevada. Government employees earned an average of $17,815 more — or 35% — than private workers, the nation’s biggest pay gap. The state’s low-paying private jobs in tourism were the cause, says Bob Potts of the Center for Business and Economic Research at University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
  • Texas. The state ranked last in benefits for public employees. The state hasn’t granted cost-of-living increases to most retirees since 2001.

The analysis included full and part-time workers and did not adjust for specific jobs, age, education or experience. In an earlier job-to-job comparison, the paper found that state and local government workers make about the same salary as those in the private sector but get more generous benefits.

Economist Jeffrey Keefe of the liberal Economic Policy Institute says the analysis is misleading because it doesn’t reflect factors such as education that result in higher pay for public employees.

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