Rhode Island in Top 10 for Public/Private Pay Differential

From USA Today, which took a look at compensation (salary+benefits) differences between the private and public sector in each state (using U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis numbers), Rhode Island is in the top ten for total compensation for public employees:


Total Compensation

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Rank State Compensation Difference
1 District of Columbia $82,607 $457
2 Connecticut $77,697 $7,687
3 New Jersey $72,007 $6,681
4 California $71,385 $7,977
5 New York $71,282 $1,699
6 Rhode Island $69,284 $17,603
7 Nevada $68,785 $17,815
8 Maryland $65,947 $6,931
9 Massachusetts $62,562 ($4,688)
10 Alaska $60,882 $2,764


Where RI really “shines” is the gap in the average compensation between public and private employees:

Rank State Compensation Difference
1 Nevada $68,785 $17,815
2 Rhode Island $69,284 $17,603
3 Hawaii $59,595 $12,243
4 Florida $58,749 $9,099
5 California $71,385 $7,977
6 Connecticut $77,697 $7,687
7 South Carolina $52,591 $7,590
8 Montana $47,596 $7,396
9 Maryland $65,947 $6,931
10 New Jersey $72,007 $6,681


That’s a pretty substantial gap and, it would seem, indicative of an imbalance, wouldn’t you say?
ADDENDUM: For the heck of it, here’s the New England breakdown:

State Compensation Difference
Rhode Island $69,284 $17,603
Connecticut $77,697 $7,687
Maine $49,850 $4,912
Vermont $51,503 $5,811
New Hampshire $52,181 ($1,876)
Massachusetts $62,562 ($4,688)

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Russ
Russ
10 years ago

I wonder why Marc left this part of the article out of his analysis?

The analysis included full and part-time workers and did not adjust for specific jobs, age, education or experience. In an earlier job-to-job comparison, USA TODAY found that state and local government workers make about the same salary as those in the private sector but get more generous benefits.
Economist Jeffrey Keefe of the liberal Economic Policy Institute says the analysis is misleading because it doesn’t reflect factors such as education that result in higher pay for public employees.

So public employee union members in RI are likely better educated than most and are more likely to work full-time, especially in a state among the hardest hit by the recessary. What a revelation!
Ask me, you’re being deliberately dishonest by omitting the qualifiers for the study you site.

Marc
Marc
10 years ago

You forgot to mention Deming.

Russ
Russ
10 years ago

If you insist…

The analysis of government data found that public employees’ compensation has grown faster than the earnings of private workers since 2000. Primary cause: the rising value of benefits.

Deming’s Seven Deadly Diseases of Management
1. Lack of constancy of purpose
2. Emphasis on short-term profits
3. Evaluation by performance, merit rating, or annual review of performance
4. Mobility of management
5. Running a company on visible figures alone
6. Excessive medical costs
7. Excessive costs of warranty, fueled by lawyers who work for contingency fees
Seems unfair to blame unions for not losing their medical benefits like so many private sector workers.

Marc
Marc
10 years ago

Yes, it’s too bad that the private sector has been forced to subsidize the inflation of both their own and public sector employee health benefits.
Look, the truth is, I had 10 minutes at lunch and whipped up a couple tables based on the story, linked to the original story and the source data and threw up a post. We have comments so you can elaborate, like you did.
Your accusation that I made a deliberate attempt to hide the qualifiers for the study implies you believe you have some sort of mystical prescience that can delve into my innermost thoughts.
The truth is I just wanted to get to my tuna sandwich.

michael
10 years ago

How do you think Andrew feels? “The Sources of Public Unrest with Public Unions” is good enough to go national but is mired in a pissing contest between two commentators trying to outsmart each other.

Russ
Russ
10 years ago

Yes, it’s too bad that the private sector has been forced to subsidize the inflation of both their own and public sector employee health benefits.

So you think we’d be a better place if only those darned teachers didn’t have health care benefits? See I agree that’s a problem, just not one that can be solved by eliminating unions (when you have a hammer, right?).

Russ
Russ
10 years ago

“… is mired in a pissing contest between two commentators trying to outsmart each other.”
fwiw, would be nice to have threaded discussions. No sense blaming folks for having a good argument going.

michael
10 years ago

“Yes, it’s too bad that the private sector has been forced to subsidize the inflation of both their own and public sector employee health benefits.”
Then why is the “Private Sector” so opposed to The Affordable health Care Act?” Universal healthcare would go a long way toward solving the disparities between public and private workers. Figure out the pension problem and we will all be singing Cumbayay at the next campfire.

BobN
BobN
10 years ago

Because Obamacare is a complete fraud and has nothing to do with “affordable health care”. Let’s not dredge up those old arguments again.

michael
10 years ago

Russ, I wasn’t referring to you.

Marc
Marc
10 years ago

“So you think we’d be a better place if only those darned teachers didn’t have health care benefits? See I agree that’s a problem, just not one that can be solved by eliminating unions (when you have a hammer, right?).”
Yeah, that’s it–no health care for teachers, that’s exactly what I mean….sheesh…See Russ, this is why I don’t usually engage you–you simply jump to conclusions and assume the worst motivations.
Though others may, I never said I wanted to eliminate unions. That’s another one of your projections. I’m all for private unions and think public unions are perfectly fine if they follow something like the federal model, which can’t collectively bargain for wages or benefits, with the same safeguards, etc.
While I’m willing to think about bargaining wage scales, I think that health care should be removed from collective bargaining to allow for more flexibility in dealing with escalating costs year-to-year (which collectively bargained 3-year contracts don’t allow for). In the private sector, the employer picks the plan and, if you want it, you sign up for it.
As for public/private health care, that’s a whole ‘nother debate and, respectfully Michael, I don’t have the time to get into it now.

bella
bella
10 years ago

A little more talk about bringing private industry wages and benefits up to a higher level, at a time when corporate profits are soaring, would do all of us some good. If there was a little parity there, we wouldn’t be wasting our time bellyaching about public employees.

Tommy Cranston
Tommy Cranston
10 years ago

Shocked we are not number 1. We need to catch up to Nevada on this front and NJ on property taxes.
Give us time… Maybe we will go over the top with slimeball Jerzyk’s six figure spokesman position.

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

Please, Bella. Share with us your plan for bringing up private sector wages. It will be an illustrative trek through the warped progressive idea that central economic planning can outperform the most sophisticated and efficient resource allocation mechanisms ever devised. I expect a total disregard for the inevitable unintended consequences of government tinkering, as usual from your side.

Patrick
Patrick
10 years ago

Or Dan, worse, even if we could raise the income of the private sector in bella’s perfect world, the union folks would complain that those crazy private sector people have been getting huge raises and want similar percentages, only making the problem worse.
Hey, why not a world where everyone from professional athletes to the biggest Hollywood stars to the biggest names on Wall Street, down to the street sweepers and even the homeless all make $40,000 a year. Not a penny more or less. Wouldn’t that be fair, bella?

Monique
Monique(@monique-chartier)
Editor
10 years ago

“Hey, why not a world where everyone from professional athletes to the biggest Hollywood stars to the biggest names on Wall Street, down to the street sweepers and even the homeless all make $40,000 a year.”
– gasp – Even labor union executives and mayoral staffers???

Mike Capelli
Mike Capelli
10 years ago

Speaking of slime-balls, what happened to the rifuture site? Didn’t pay their bills? Went the way of AirAmerica? That stupid liberal garbage just doesn’t sell, does it?

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

No Monique, the elite central planners in Bella’s world, just like Orwell’s Animal Farm pigs and NEARI leadership, need a bit “extra” in order to keep themselves in tip top condition to make those difficult leadership decisions. We can’t have them representing the downtrodden on a stomach filled with anything but the finest steak. Three times a teacher’s salary should be adequate.
Progressivism: All workers are equal… but some workers are more equal than others.

Frank
Frank
10 years ago

Marc, just wondering, do you know if these numbers take into account that RI state employees earn their salaries and benefits in a 35 hour week rather than the standard 40 hour week?

bella
bella
10 years ago

Sounds like people here would rather have an America run by the Koch Brothers.
It amazes me how people say out of one side of their mouths that the private sector paying more than the public sector is a good thing, and out of the other don’t want public sector pay rising. Your perfect paradise is Russia, only with Putin and his organized crime lords in charge instead of Stalin and his apparatchiks.

Pat Crowley
Pat Crowley
10 years ago

Thank You Russ for pointing out, once again, the complete an utter fraud that is Anchor Rising.
What? It trashes public employees? Don’t bother checking the data…just run with it…….
Frauds.

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

You didn’t answer my question, Bella. What is your plan for raising private sector income? The remainder of your comment (Koch brothers, Putin, Stalin, etc.) made so little sense that it is not worth addressing. The plan, please.
Hey Pat, have you broken that prestigious 100k mark for public union leadership yet? You sure are looking out for the little people. How many teachers do you think would voluntarily pay you to represent them in negotiations? You have the people skills of a warthog. Doesn’t NEARI have a lawyer on staff who could step in there? Oh, right, he’s under indictment for identity theft.

Andrew
Andrew(@carroll-andrew-morse)
Editor
10 years ago

[Russ excerpts:]Economist Jeffrey Keefe of the liberal Economic Policy Institute says the analysis is misleading because it doesn’t reflect factors such as education that result in higher pay for public employees.

That’s not nice of you guys to imply that public employees in Massachusetts aren’t as well educated as the ones in Rhode Island. But do you think if funding is increased in Massachusetts and Vermont, they can get their educational results down to Rhode Island levels?
Pat,
You should put up a post at RI Future discussing this.

Sammy in Sunny Arizona
Sammy in Sunny Arizona
10 years ago

According to Don Carcieri, only 30% of the folks in the RI workforce have college degrees, many don’t even have high school diplomas.
While 64% of public employees have college degrees, many have advanced degrees, all the way to PHDs
Its just amazing that the folks on the “right” think that high school dropouts, should earn the same as a PHD

Andrew
Andrew(@carroll-andrew-morse)
Editor
10 years ago

So do you think the RI public employees ($69,284) are significantly better educated than those in say Massachusetts ($62,562) or Vermont ($51,503)?
That’s the point of breaking out the data, state-by-state.

Ken
Ken
10 years ago

I can appreciate what Marc posted but it does not tell the whole story! The New York Times has a nice story written by Michael Powell January 4, 2011, 12:00 pm addressing the question: “Do Public Workers’ Diplomas Justify Their Pay?” Web Link: //economix.blogs.nytimes.com/tag/state-governments/ Mr. Powell wrote: “Several studies have found that public workers tend to have more education than private-sector workers, and a reader asks if this perhaps indicates that public workers are overeducated. Jeffrey Keefe, a Rutgers professor, studied this issue for the Economic Policy Institute and found that 57 percent of public-sector New Jersey employees hold four-year degrees, compared with 40 percent in the private sector. But in large part this owes to two factors, the first of which goes to the nature of public-sector employment. Teachers, who all have four-year degrees and often master’s and other advanced degrees, make up the single largest part of the public work force. Similarly, the professionalization of police departments most often means that even patrol officers hold at least two-year degrees and brass most often hold four-year degrees and more. As one jumps from department to department, from social workers to environmental workers to budget analysts, college degrees are as often the coin of the realm.” Mr. Jeffrey Keefe, Rutgers Professor wrote in his study titled “Are New Jersey Public Employees Overpaid?” for the Economic Policy Institute. “The data analysis in this paper, however, indicates that New Jersey public employees, both state and local government employees, are not overpaid. Comparisons controlling for education, experience, hours of work, organizational size, gender, race, ethnicity, and disability reveal no significant difference between the private and public sectors in the level of employee compensation costs on a per hour basis. However, public employees, particularly higher level professional employees, have fewer opportunities to work overtime… Read more »

don roach
10 years ago

I think what some of you (Pat & Russ) are missing is the fact that this is an apples to apples comparison amongst states. While it does not take into consideration the job or education level, that’s true for all states.
All things being equal, Rhode Island either has too many jobs that pay on the high end of the scale in the public sector vs the private sector
OR
Rhode Island’s public sector employees salary + benefits is completely out of step with the private sector. I believe that whenever you have a situation like we have in Providence, it’s not a difficult leap to believe that public sector employees’ benefits and salary are just too high for the state to sustain.

Phil
Phil
10 years ago

The truth is I just wanted to get to my tuna sandwich.
Posted by Marc at March 1, 2011 3:18 PM
Thanks Marc for the honesty. What your 10 minute exercise proves is that there is an overabundance of boilerplate anti union, anti-government think tank garbage floating around just waiting to be used as fact for the uncritical thinkers of the right.

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