Are public employees in WIsconsin overcompensated? Study released today says no.

Friday, February 11, 2011 at 1:15 AM by

An Economic Policy Institute study released today finds that full-time state and local employees in Wisconsin are undercompensated by 8.2%, when compared to the annual earnings and benefits of comparable private-sector workers. The study was conducted by Professor Jeffrey Keefe, a labor market researcher at Cornell University.

The release of the study was followed late Thursday by the preliminary release of some of the details of Governor Walker’s fiscal year 2011 budget repair bill, which amounts to a wholesale assault on public employee benefits and collective bargaining rights of public sector workers.  (Curiously, the collective bargaining restrictions don’t apply to law enforcement, fire employees and state troopers and inspectors.)  A story posted late this afternoon on the Journal Sentinel website fills in a portion of the changes that would affect public employees.

According to Professor Keefe’s findings, the public sector compensation disadvantage in Wisconsin is smaller but still significant when hours worked are factored in. Full-time public employees work fewer annual hours, particularly employees with bachelor’s, master’s, and professional degrees (because many are teachers or university professors).  As a result, when comparisons are made controlling for the difference in hours worked, full-time state and local government employees are undercompensated by 4.8%, compared with the hourly wages and benefits for similar private sector workers.

The comparisons made by the study control for education, experience, organizational size, gender, race, ethnicity, citizenship, and disability.


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