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May 1996, Vol. 119, No. 5
Michael A. Miller
From the 50 State capitols to the 80,000 local government entities, the level of public employees' pay is a much-discussed issue. Payroll costs are a big-ticket item in State and local governments, amounting to more than 60 percent of all expenditures. Citing average pay rates and quit rates, critics such as Wendell Cox and Samuel A. Brunelli argue that public employees are overpaid compared with private sector employees and that public agencies are overstaffed.1 Others, such as Dale Belman and John Heywood, argue that State and local governments provide services requiring a better educated and higher skilled work force than exists, on the whole, in the private sector.2 In addition, citizens expect government to lead by example, and studies indicate that State and local governments have outpaced the private sector in remedying wage discrimination against women and minorities.3
This article examines the current literature and then uses occupational pay data from the BLS Occupational Compensation Survey Program (OCSP) to compare wages and salaries in State and local governments with pay in nonfarm private industry. For the occupations studied, the major findings include the following:
This excerpt is from an article published in the May 1996 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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1 Wendell Cox and Samuel A. Brunelli, "America's Protected Class III, the Unfair Advantage of Public Employees," The State Factor, April 1994, pp. 1-34.
2 Dale Belman and John Heywood, "The Truth about Public Employees: Underpaid or Overpaid?" Briefing Papers, Economic Institute, April 1993, pp. 1-23.
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