News Flash: PA Public-Sector Jobs Not Path to Riches

The Economic Policy Institute has a new report out documenting — surprise, surprise — that jobs in Pennsylvania state and local government aren’t the way to get rich.

The report, authored by Rutgers University labor and employment relations Professor Jeffrey Keefe, shows that Pennsylvania public-sector workers make the same or slightly less in wages plus benefits than comparable Pennsylvania private-sector workers. The more-generous benefits of public-sector workers are balanced by lower wages and salaries.

We weren’t very surprised by this result. We had made similar observations earlier this year.

  • When Governor Corbett implied in his March budget address that Pennsylvania public-sector workers have enjoyed faster wage growth than their private counterparts recently, we showed that the Governor was wrong.
  • We called your attention to The Economist's observation that no one goes into government to make a lot of money.
  • We pointed out that the two highest-paid CEOs in Pennsylvania make more than the highest-paid 100 Pennsylvania state employees.
  • Oh, and see the April 1 Not Patriot News story by reporter Wanda Moore, "State Worker Stunned to Learn State Government Is Not Pathway to Riches."

The low salaries of college-educated public-sector workers help explain why Governor Corbett struggled to find supporters over age 35 willing to take key positions in his administration.

Low public-sector pay is also why state and local government can’t save much money by slashing public workers’ benefits. To attract and retain high-quality workers, any benefit cut for college-educated public workers (most of the public payroll) would need to be matched by wage increases.

Read a fact sheet here with all the key points on public versus private pay in Pennsylvania.

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