Benefits widen public, private workers’ pay gap

Yelling at the politicians about government spending probably isn’t going to do much good. Their response is to threaten to cut services that voters really want – better roads, parks, libraries, without ever addressing the underlying problem. Government salaries for equal work are generous and benefits widen public, private workers’ pay gap

The pay gap between government workers and lower-compensated private employees is growing as public employees enjoy sizable benefit growth even in a distressed economy, federal figures show.

Public employees earned benefits worth an average of $13.38 an hour in December 2008, the latest available data, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says. Private-sector workers got $7.98 an hour.

Overall, total compensation for state and local workers was $39.25 an hour — $11.90 more than in private business. In 2007, the gap in wages and benefits was $11.31.

The gap has been expanding because of the increasing value of public employee benefits. Last year, government benefits rose three times more than those in the private sector: up 69 cents an hour for civil servants, 23 cents for private workers.

Labor costs account for about half of state and local spending, according to BLS and Census data. Benefits consume a growing share of that, now 34%.

Yup, much of our tax money goes into the pockets of the government employees. Arguably some of those folks are delivering the services, but they are paid  handsomely during their employment AND long afterward. You can bet that the folks working in that small business aren’t going to get a generous pension and healthcare for life when they retire at 50.


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