Better Pay? Better Benefits? Why Not Have Both?


A good piece in today's Wall Street Journal explains why the generous benefits offered to public sector workers can't last forever in an era when We Are Out of Money. But the article contains this passing assertion and quote:

The more generous benefits given to government workers are part of a larger trade-off, according to economists. Unable to match private-sector salaries for their most valued workers, governments instead offer more-attractive benefits packages.

"It's certainly the case that, for higher-skilled workers, the more generous provision of benefits, especially retirement benefits, is a compensation for lower pay," said Gary Burtless, an economist at the liberal-leaning Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. "It also is a deterrent to your more senior and older workers from leaving."

This may be narrowly true for the most valued and/or senior workers, but they're not the only ones getting the moolah and Cadillac plans. And in many jobs—as I blogged in March—the pay and benefits are both better on the public side than on the private.

A refresher: