[Vision2020] Public Employee Pay

nickgier at roadrunner.com nickgier at roadrunner.com
Thu Jun 30 11:29:49 PDT 2011

Hi Roger,

I don't know where Iain (sp?) Murray (below) is getting his figures, but they certainly don't match the ones I was able to locate. The figures you cite are absurd on their face.  No way that public employees make twice as much as private employees!

Here is an excerpt from one of my recent columns, which, by the way, just received a bronze medal from the Pacific Northwest Associated Press.

Government Workers are Paid Less in Comparable Jobs

Distortion also abounds about public employee salaries. Keith Bender and John Heywood, economists at the University of Wisconsin, have studied this issue in depth and they conclude that, for comparable education and jobs, state employees earn 11 percent less than private workers. When public health and pension coverage is included, the gap is still 6.8 percent.

The pay differential for professional employees is even greater. A survey of 45 professions conducted by my union found that private attorneys make 75 percent more than those who work for the government.  Private economists make 71 percent more; private geoscientists, 67 percent; and private chemists, 54 percent. 

While “knowledge” workers suffer the greatest disparity, the average discount for public salaries in 45 areas was 20 percent. By the way, public sector professionals in this survey received an average .4 percent salary increase from 2009 to 2010.

People in the professions sacrifice huge potential earnings by committing themselves to public service.  In return they should not be criticized for better job security and better benefits, especially if this has been achieved fairly in mutual negotiation with their employers.  Attorneys, engineers, economists, business experts, and biomedical scientists on my campus and elsewhere have foregone lucrative private jobs in order to educate Idaho’s students.

In the book "Stealing You Blind by Iain Murray, he states that " public workers make 1.5 to 2 times as much as their private sector colleagues who perform equivalent jobs-and that is not counting their more generous benefits and leave arrangements."

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