Public-sector workers’ compensation is neither the cause, nor can it be the solution to a state’s financial problems. Only an economic recovery can begin to plug the hole in the states’ budgets. Unfortunately, the states’ own current budget balancing efforts may prolong the economic downturn by increasing unemployment and reducing demand for products and services. Thousands of state and local public employees will lose their jobs, and their families will experience considerable pain and disruption. Others will have their wages frozen and benefits cut. Not because they did not do their jobs, or their services are no longer needed, nor because they are overpaid. They too will join the list of millions of hard working innocent victims of a financial system run amuck. They do not deserve bullying or our ridicule and condemnation by elected officials and the media looking for scapegoats.
Finally, the study I've been looking for -- thanks to Paul Krugman who points to a recent (9/10) "debunking [of] the myth of the overcompensated public employee," an analysis from the Economic Policy Institute, 14 pages in pdf. What I looked for, and found, is a series of comparisons by education, training, gender, job, form of pay and benefits, and more. What the EPI found (above) isn't too surprising.
Here are a coupleof the findings.
Comparisons controlling for education, experience, hours of work, organizational size, gender, race, ethnicity and disability, reveal no significant overpayment but a slight undercompensation of public employees when compared to private employee compensation costs on a per hour basis. On average, full-time state and local employees are undercompensated by 3.7%, in comparison to otherwise similar private-sector workers. The public employee compensation penalty is smaller for local government employees (1.8%) than state government workers (7.6%).
On average, state and local public-sector workforce; 54% of full-time state and local public sector workers hold at least a four year college degree compared to 35% of full-time private-sector workers. State and local governments pay college-educated labor on average 25% less than private employers. ... The compensation of workers with a high school education is higher for state or local government employees, when compared to similarly educated workers in the private sector.
Public employers contribute on average 34.1% of employee compensation expenses to benefits, whereas private employers devote between 26.1% and 33.1% of compensation to benefits, depending on the employer’s size. Public employers provide better health insurance and pension benefits. Health insurance accounts for 6.3% to 8.3% of private-sector compensation but 11.2% of state and local government employee compensation. Retirement benefits also account for a substantially greater share of public employee compensation, 8.1% compared with 2.8% to 4.8% in the private sector. Most public employees also continue to participate in defined benefit plans managed by the state, while most private sector employers have switched to defined-contribution plans, particularly 401(k) plans. On the other hand, public employees receive considerably less supplemental pay and vacation time, and public employers contribute significantly less to legally mandated benefits.