Government Spending

Public vs. Private Compensation Redux


I think our art was more subtle than theirs

Last month, in response to study after report after article showing public sector workers far outpacing their private-sector counterparts in salary (let alone the usual advantages in pension and health benefits), the Center for State and Local Government Excellence (motto: "to help state and local governments become knowledgeable and competitive employers so they can attract and retain talented, committed, well-prepared individuals to public service") and the National Institute on Retirement Security ("fostering a deep understanding of the value of traditional pension systems to employees, employers and the economy") teamed up to produce a big not-so-fast study [PDF], concluding that the compensation disparity is due to the superior education and experience of government employees, and that state/local gubmint types actually earn less. The report got boffo box office.

But is it true? The Reason Foundation's Adam Summers takes a swing at that question, and provides some other context, here. And our classic cover story on the Class War is here.

After digesting those, take this nightcap:

NEXT: Koch Brothers Deny Tea Party Paternity

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “An ever-increasing number of people are better and more moral than you” isn’t exactly the spin I’d throw at the persecution-delusionin’ teabaggin’ mobs of teabaggin’ homicidal maniac teabaggers, if I really believed that they were like that and that I was holy.

  2. the superior education and experience of government employees,

    Laughable horseshit.

  3. “to help state and local governments become knowledgeable and competitive employers so they can attract and retain talented, committed, well-prepared individuals to public service”

    Where the fuck are these people?

  4. We protect our own. Period.

  5. It’s absolutely astounding that anyone is dumb enough to try and pull off portraying government workers as better than private sector workers. It’s fucking laughable. Even if it were true at, say, NASA, every voter has experienced the goldbricking lowlifes at the DMV. Are they really this fucking stupid?

    1. The whole point of the union it to overcome the unfair advantage that highly-skilled workers have over the talentless and unmotivated bulk of the proletariot.

  6. I’m going to guess that the education statistics are skewed because of teachers. IIRC, all the teachers in LAUSD have at least a bachelors and most have a masters. One of the main reasons for this is because pay is tied to level of education completed not competency. This encourages them to focus on those little slips of paper instead of actual skills. Having known some teachers, I can tell you they don’t generally get their masters from Harvard. It’s more likely University of Phoenix with online bullshit classes. That does not make them more educated than someone with a bachelors from a very difficult school. It just looks that way on paper. Since the engineers I have to deal with at the city are total morons who couldn’t tell their ass from a hole in the ground even with a topo map, I call shenanigans.

    1. Our advanced degress may be crap, but they were paid for with public funds.

      1. Your district must be way richer than mine. I paid for mine. Sheesh, is Yale now considered a crap degree?

    2. Where I live, the state Teachers Association is running TV commercials talking about how they are producing “world class” eductations for the children and lamenting their low pay status. The ad proclaims we must “invest” in salaries for the teachers.

      It is to laugh.

      They must have a tin ear to be pushing that crap in this economic environment where ever increasing amounts of private sector employees have lost their jobs and ever increasing amounts of the private sector’s tax money is being used to prop up government employees.

    3. A more accurate assessment is that state laws REQUIRE teachers to have a graduate degree to retain their teaching credentials. The differential for an advanced degree is about $1,200 a year for a master’s. That doesn’t even cover half the cost of a graduate level course at Yale. I’d have to teach, oh…I dunno…35 years to break even.
      Yet, some of the most incredible educators I’ve ever met had degrees from the plain old ordinary state university system.

  7. “public service” my least favorite and the most ironic of euphemisms.

    1. I grew up in West Texas cattle country, where “service” is what a bull does to a cow. Apparently they do all that over the Internet, now, so the term has fallen out of common usage, except when the Government “services” the Public.

  8. This is one case where I loudly (and proudly) get to have it both ways:

    If you’re paid more than your private sector counterparts: Quit whining, you’re well compensated and impossible to fire.

    If you’re paid less than your private sector counterparts: Quit whining, it’s called “public service”– you do know that it’s supposed to represent a “sacrifice”, right?

    1. If you’re paid less than your private sector counterparts: Quit whining, it’s called “public service”– you do know that it’s supposed to represent a “sacrifice”, right?

      Or don’t sacrifice yourself and go get that private sector jobs that pays more. What, there isn’t one?

  9. I wish I could demand (and get!) a higher salary because I am overqualified for my job. Sadly, it never seems to work out that way. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    1. Come work for us. And don’t worry about the ‘overqualified’ part.

  10. I’m a public school teacher in a huge urban high school. The state of Connecticut has an unfunded teacher’s retirement liability of nearly 7 billion…yes, billion, dollars. We’re a pretty tiny state. That’s a very scary number. And to a previous poster, yes, I have a master’s degree. I considered the University of Phoenix because it was cheap and we are required by state law to have a graduate degree to keep our teaching license. Of course, we have to pay for it ourselves and it isn’t a tax deduction. But I thought the better of it and settled for Yale. And for what it’s worth, more than half my staff has graduate degrees from Tier I schools. About 15% have their degrees from Ivies. Thanks for asking.

    1. Jebus, Connecticut has a 7 BILLION dollar liability?

      Wow, I had no idea it was that bad over there.

      1. Save me, Jebus!!!

    2. I’m pretty sure a lot of that percentage has to do with geography, but good for you. I know that is not the case in L.A. I also think it is ridiculous that a primary school teacher is required by the state to have a masters. Administration I could see, but I hear those positions encourage a doctorate.

  11. I consider myself a moderate: trillion dollar deficits are political extremism.

  12. Comparing the compensation for someone in the private sector and someone in the public sector with the same job title has squat to say about productivity of either.

  13. I’m sure if you removed the top 10 percent of earners from both the private and public sector earnings, you’d fine that the difference in compensation was much larger (with the majority of compensation going to the public sector), as the statistics used in the study that said that public sector workers were undercompensated probably included high earning CEO’s and Business owners on the private sector side of their calculations.

  14. Our elected officials want to be able to say that they have “created” jobs. This is an election year. It’s hard to comprehend how gullible the electorate is.

  15. Rarely have I seen so much horse pucky concentrated in one place (the Reason video and the comment board).
    Let me get this straight, big business tanks the economy, extorts the government (taxpayers) to make them whole, and now middle class public servants are the evil ones?
    Whats really going on is Norquists Starve the Beast strategy coming to fruition. If you are not one of the top one percent of the world, you are getting fucked by the elite, with many apparently to stupid of to mesmerized to know it.
    Anger at public servants only shows how easily you are manipulated and distracted.
    All together now…wave bye bye to the middle class.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.