User-agent: * Allow: / Trenton Butcher Block: It;s Official, Government Workers Are Not Overpaid

"Our Liberties We Prize, Our Rights We Will Defend."

Commentary on national and local events from the standpoint of a Trenton city resident and state worker.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

It;s Official, Government Workers Are Not Overpaid

You've seen the articles in the New Jersey papers many times that claim we are overpaid because the average state employee, federal employee, whatever makes more on the average than the average wage for private sector employees.  This fact is normally used to show that we are overpaid and is used as an argument for everything from giving us a 40-hour week to watering down our health and pension benefits to decertifying our unions.

No less a source than the New York Times has an article that explains this.

Basically, the fact that we make more than private-sector employees is something that you could place into the "No shit Sherlock" folder.  A little arrogant, you may say.  Not exactly.  See, we're basically missing workers from the hotel and restaurant industry and from retail trade, two on the lowest=paid sectors in the economy.  Ditto for landscapers and janitors too.  The state contracts out for all these services.  Private landscapers get to cut the grass at the Labor Building.  Private workers work in the cafeteria.  We have mentally handicapped people from a sheltered workshop cleaning our building.

So what are we long on?  Well, the Division of Workers Compensation hires a lot of attorneys, both as council and as judges.  The division of Labor Planning and Analysis hires a lot of economists and statisticians.  And unemployment, disability and workers compensation all hire their share of investigators.  Add to this layers of senior and middle management to supervise everybody, and you got one highly educated workforce.  It also happens to be highly paid, and rightly so, with those occupations.

When one is looking at clerical workers, perhaps they are paid more than average, but not more for a large organization such as Bristol Meyers or Lockheed of Boeing.  Once you start moving up the ranks, the pay differential goes the other way.  For professionals such as economists and attorneys, wages are about 20 percent lower in the public sector than in the private.  True, we don't work as many hours, so it is not such a bad deal, but you still have to pay to get qualified people.

When you are talking about executives responsible for several hundred people, the pay differential is even less.  Our Director, for instance makes about $130,000.  Find a general manager of a factory employing 300 or 400 people and I bet you they make a lot more than that.

Thank God for the Times, I couldn't have written it as well.

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