Government Workers

The latest project on the Republican “honey do” list is to convince the American public that government employees are overpaid and overcompensated — so they can justify breaking their unions. And despite the actual facts (which just don’t seem to matter anymore), they seem to be making headway with the public. Perhaps this will help:

With unemployment in the region lingering at record levels, and job security a wistful memory for many, it’s easy to look for scapegoats. Thus a familiar refrain–government workers are overpaid, and our tax dollars are going towards outsized benefit and salary packages–has come back again. But as with most scapegoating, there’s not much truth to the accusation: the reality is just the opposite. Once age and education are factored in, state and local workers actually earn less, on average, than their private-sector counterparts. The wage penalty for state and local government workers in New England is close to 3 percent.

In their new study, The Wage Penalty for State and Local Government Employees in New England, Jeffrey Thompson of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and John Schmitt of the Center for Economic Policy Research demonstrate that the average state or local government worker does earn higher wages than the average private-sector worker–but this is because they are, on average, older and substantially better educated. The higher average wage in the public sector means that the teachers, engineers, accountants, and others who are running government offices, schools, and public services in New England are more experienced and highly trained, on average, than workers in the private sector. But despite these qualifications, their pay is on average lower than that of those counterparts. Another way to look at it is: given two workers of the same age and same level of experience, a public sector worker earns less than a private sector worker.

As the report’s co-author, Jeffrey Thompson, explains, “If you simply compare the wages in the public and private sector, you end up learning more about the skill levels of those workers than about the sector where they work. All that comparison tells you is that state and local government workers in New England are more highly educated and more experienced than their counterparts in the private sector. But once you properly control for education and experience, it becomes evident that public sector workers get lower wages.”

2 thoughts on “Government Workers

  1. What don’t we ever hear these right wing idiots complaining about the outsize pay and benefits big corporate executive gets? A ceo makes 400X their average worker. Standard wingnut refrain is that is the private sector and that is what they need to pay in order to attract talent. WRONG! The reason these execs and CEOs make that much is because it’s all a big club…and we’re not in it. It has nothing to do with talent, witness the outrageously paid CEOs of failing companies. Then those big corps go to Washington and start throwing all their money around, so they can get laws passed to tilt the playing field to their advantage. So we average folks are getting screwed 2 ways. First because these CEOs and execs make all this money while cutting jobs and wages and then they make laws that screw over everyone else not just their employees. And the dumb ones among us who care not to exercise that muscle in their head called a brain complain about unions and government workers.
    If we don’t start taxing the rich, then maybe we can EAT THE RICH

  2. To those of you who hate govenrment workers, who is going to pick up a wepon and stand a post? You?

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