State, Locals Paying More

Increasing budget pressure, government mandates and rapidly advancing technologies are challenging state and local governments, a fact that prompted a new research project that compares public to private sector employee

Increasing budget pressure, government mandates and rapidly advancing technologies are challenging state and local governments, a fact that prompted a new research project that compares public to private sector employee pay scales.

“State governments pay on average 6.2 percent more per hour in wages and benefits, including pension benefits, than the private sector for the 22 major occupational categories that exist in both sectors,” the report claims.

The report was partially prompted by what’s happening in California and New Jersey. In California, several cities have declared bankruptcy, including San Bernardino and Stockton. Other cities are trending that way, and some have been forced to cut back on previously “untouchable” services like firefighting forces. In New Jersey, budget difficulties is forcing the city of Camden, “the most dangerous city in the United States,” to lay off 270 police officers by the end of this year.

The analysis uses state government data from the National Compensation Survey (NCS) of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Key findings:

>> Nationally, no state government pays its employees on par or below what the private sector pays its employees, despite identical occupations in both sectors;

>> Texas has the largest difference in pay for state government employees versus the private sector; however, California has the highest weighted average hourly wages;

>> Utah and Montana compensate state government employees closest to the private sector, but still pay higher wages and benefits than those paid to private sector workers;

>> The largest percentage difference in pay is 40 percent, and the highest difference in pay is $61 per hour;

>> A grading system for each state’s wages and benefits compared to private sector wages and benefits is provided in the report. The report is authored by John Dunham and Associates, New York, for Washington, D.C.-based Citizens Against Government Waste.

—Read the report: http://www.cagw.org/assets/issue-brief-2012-10-comp-report-web-1.pdf

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