Building an Economy that Works for Everyone

Fact sheet: Public employee compensation

Public employee benefits are on the chopping block across the country as state and local governments look for ways to reduce spending. Public revenues remain low due to the lingering effects of the recession and the longer term trend shifting income from the middle class to the wealthy. Washington state, with an unbalanced tax structure that compounds national trends, faces a roughly $5 billion budget shortfall for the 2011-2013 biennium. Cities, counties, and school districts around the state are also grappling with projected deficits.

Wages of public employees are typically lower than those of people working in private companies with similar levels of education and work experience.  Nonetheless, critics frequently point to better benefits in the public sector, and advocate cutting public employee pension, health, and other benefits.

However, even with better benefits calculated into the equation, a number of analyses have found that public employees receive less total compensation than their private sector peers.

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