Data show hefty public-employee compensation

UnionsLastHope

April 11, 2013

By Ed Ring

“Forget about logic,” Jack advised. “My analytics instructor says that all logic is mere tautology. She says it is impossible to learn anything through logic that you did not already know.”

— Robert A. Heinlein, Tunnel in the Sky

What about facts? There are certainly facts we don’t already know. According to the logic of the labor union spokespersons who relentlessly lobby and negotiate for higher wages and benefits for public sector workers, they are still underpaid because they have higher levels of education than the average worker.

According to the logic of AFSCME Local 3336, the only reason anyone might think public sector employees are overpaid is because of right wing propaganda. Yet it seems the many studies that fund their own analyses come from taxpayer-supported institutions staffed with unionized faculty, or think tanks funded by grants from public employee unions.

But why impugn the sources? Why consider their logic? Why not just present the facts and let journalists, policymakers and voters employ their own logic to form an opinion?

That is what compensation studies from the California Public Policy Center have attempted to do. They have now done public employee compensation studies on four California cities, most recently Irvine, along with Costa MesaAnaheim and San Jose. Not only have they presented the data objectively. But for anyone to verify the data and the assumptions, they have made the payroll spreadsheets and analysis available for downloading by anyone who wants to review the data themselves; here are these spreadsheets: IrvineCosta MesaAnaheim, and San Jose.

Here are some facts on total compensation (direct pay plus employer funded benefits) for full time employees of these four cities:

TOTAL COMPENSATION — FULL-TIME CITY EMPLOYEES

Irvine: Total compensation average = $143,691, median = $133,782.
Costa Mesa: Total compensation average = $146,863, median = $146,378
Anaheim: Total compensation average = $146,551, median = $138,442
San Jose: Total compensation average = $149,907, median = $139,634

TOTAL COMPENSATION — FULL-TIME CITY EMPLOYEES NOT INCLUDING PUBLIC SAFETY

Irvine: Total compensation average = $127,115, median = $120,063.
Costa Mesa: Total compensation average = $103,755, median = $95,526
Anaheim: Total compensation average = $122,717, median = $110,792
San Jose: Total compensation average = $120,092, median = $114,923

These figures are for full time workers, unlike the numbers provided by the State Controller on their “transparency” website. Those averages not only fail to include all employer provided benefits in the numerator, but they include every part-time worker in the denominator. Not surprisingly, these “facts” reveal much lower averages. Here are the “average wages for all employees” according to the California State Controller’s transparency website:

CALIFORNIA STATE CONTROLLER’S “AVERAGE WAGE” FIGURES

Irvine: Average wage = $48,506
Costa Mesa: Total compensation average = $72,177
Anaheim: Total compensation average = $56,850
San Jose: Total compensation average = $68,339

Why not let the reader determine which of these “averages” is more representative of reality? For any readers who might argue that the cost of benefits don’t belong in calculations of average or median earnings, we invite them, out of their direct pay, to start paying for 100 percent of their pensions, 100 percent of their retirement health care, and 100 percent of their health insurance, disability insurance, life insurance, 401(k) plan, and Social Security and Medicare premiums.

More facts

Here are some additional facts:

Using California’s Employment Development Department’s 2010 report, “Labor Market Trends,” (ref. figure 1), it is evident there are 2.4 million Federal, State and Local employees in California; 12.2 million full-time private sector employees who work for an employer; and another 1.4 million “self-employed” private sector workers. According to the California State Department of Finance, in 2011 the state’s Gross Domestic Product was $1.96 trillion.

So what if every one of California’s 16 million full-time workers was earning total compensation of $143,691 per year — the lowest of our four cities under consideration? Multiplying this average by the number of full-time workers in the state, and comparing the result to the state’s entire economic output might help us ascertain the feasibility of such a feat, would it not?

As it turns out, if every one of California’s 16 million full-time workers earned $143,691 per year in total employer paid compensation (pay and benefits), it would amount to $2.3 trillion, 17 percent in excess of California’s entire economic output. This means that if California had no net exports and no business investment — elements that typically comprise at least 30 percent of GDP — paying everyone what the average local government worker makes would still consume 17 percent more than the state’s entire economic output.

Average total compensation

Here’s another fact:

AVERAGE TOTAL COMPENSATION, FULL-TIME, CALIFORNIA, PRIVATE SECTOR: $63,361

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and as reported in the Sacramento Business Journal, the average annual salary for a worker in California was $51,910 in 2012. To convert this into total compensation, using generous assumptions, add 7.5 percent for employer contributions to Social Security and Medicare, plus a 3 percent matching contribution to a 401(k), plus $500 per month for health insurance benefits, and you get $63,361 per year (don’t forget there are 2.4 million government workers who pulled the BLS statistics upwards). That is an absolute best case.

This means that the average worker for the City of Irvine, which has the lowest paid workforce among the four cities considered in the CPPC studies so far, is making $143,691 per year in total compensation, compared to the average Californian, who makes at most $63,361 in total compensation.

At the risk of Robert A. Heinlein turning in his grave, let’s now indulge in some logic.

Maybe, just maybe, their allegedly superior levels of overall educational attainment don’t justify municipal bureaucrats (not even including public safety) making average total compensation that is approximately twice as much as the total compensation earned by the average full-time private sector worker in California.

Maybe, just maybe, when public sector unions clamor for even higher levels of compensation and benefits because “public employees need to be able to afford to live in the communities they serve,” they might consider the fact that their relentless lobbying and negotiating for more pay and benefits, combined with their relentless lobbying and negotiating for more laws and regulations in order to expand their membership base of public employees, is the reason that nobody can afford to live in these communities.

And maybe, just maybe, public employees will renounce their union agenda of more taxes, more regulations, and more benefits for themselves, just enough to allow California’s economy to recover. Maybe they will take it upon themselves to oppose their union agendas that, if unchecked, condemn California to an immediate future where the rich play with movies and software, the poor collect entitlements, and the government employees are the only middle class left.

After all, despite Heinlein’s nearly 60-year-old vision, there is no tunnel in the sky, at least not yet. No M-class planets to escape to. For that matter, there are still no blue water floating city states beckoning just off the coast. But the interstate highway system is alive and well.

Ed Ring is the research director of the California Public Policy Center, and the editor of UnionWatch.org

32 comments

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  1. Ted Steele, Navigator
    Ted Steele, Navigator 11 April, 2013, 09:17

    What cracks me up is this– look at all of those city councils with good conservative Republican members— and they still pay the help too much. You have to wonder when these folks will practice what they preach. If the compensation is too high, then stop increasing compensation. Of course they blame it on unions but NO union EVER got a raise without the votes on the council….etc……

    Discuss-

    Reply this comment
  2. Sean Morham
    Sean Morham 11 April, 2013, 09:44

    Yours truy is a big critic of gov t salaries perks in California, but this is a result of a sick society across the USA. Some of most excessive gov t salaries in good old USA are in Texas public universities. We need reform, but I know the Governor of Cal. and Big Daddy are in favor of taking care of their kindred.

    Reply this comment
  3. Steve Mehlman
    Steve Mehlman 11 April, 2013, 09:59

    The anti-government zealots are fond of pointing out that because the average public employee makes more money than the average WalMart worker, that means that public employees are overpaid.

    What I want to see is a study that compares the wages of public and private sector employees who do the same job. For example, compare an auditor who works for state government with an auditor who works for KPMG and tell me who makes more.

    Bet you’ll never find the Dog talking about that kind of study.

    Reply this comment
  4. fish
    fish 11 April, 2013, 11:58

    Of course they blame it on unions but NO union EVER got a raise without the votes on the council….etc……

    Teddy! You flirt with sanity here. Well done! You should have completed your thought though:

    NO union EVER got a raise without the votes on the council….and you don’t stay on the council if you don’t buy off the unions!

    Reply this comment
  5. David in Irvine
    David in Irvine 11 April, 2013, 12:20

    At the federal level, public/private compensation comparisons are not uncommon, but this article describes the different approaches: http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-07-23/politics/35487789_1_federal-workers-federal-employees-studies

    In general, I think the feds pay way too much at the lower end of the payscale (e.g., secretaries) and things even out as you get higher, but that doesn’t always factor in hours worked for salaried workers, job security/stress, etc.

    As an Irvine resident, my impression is that the city has overly generous compensation for things like public affairs/media relations positions.

    Reply this comment
  6. Ted Steele, Navigator
    Ted Steele, Navigator 11 April, 2013, 14:30

    fishlips— What about all of the council folks who never get union contributions (limited by the FPP Act by the way) and still vote for the raises?

    Blaming the unions for your reps bad votes is a dull-normal mantra….zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Reply this comment
  7. fish
    fish 11 April, 2013, 15:06

    “zzzzzzzzzzzzzz …” LOL Ted lol!!!!!

    What about all of the council folks who never get union contributions (limited by the FPP Act by the way)

    Really Ted name two on Team Union who don’t accept political contributions……..

    crickets….

    Oh Tedster a sharp political operative like yourself has probably poured over the Political Reform Act language so you know it’s different for all the various jurisdictions. But in reviewing the allowed dollar amounts $5000 per person and $25,000 to a political party committee swings a big stick at the city and county level. Those amounts add up to serious “walkin around money” eh Ted!?

    You keep swinging though little slugger you’ll hit that “homer” one of these days!

    Reply this comment
  8. Ted Steele, Navigator
    Ted Steele, Navigator 11 April, 2013, 16:29

    LOL Fishlips—- So as I understand it– YOU think that every city council member in, I guess, most of our cities, are getting 5k donations per cycle from at least one gov employee union? LOL Should I be looking at form 700 filings as well? Oh the humanity!

    You are a caution little buddy! You might call the Times on that theory.

    Reply this comment
  9. Cindy
    Cindy 11 April, 2013, 16:36

    Too highly paid or not, we are broke and don’t have the money to pay you all. In the private sector that means people are going to lose thier jobs, in the public sector it means those making a third of what you make, will be forced to make more cuts at home so the public sector privledged can continue to get raises. to think the CA teachers union created a video about the greedy who steal from them.

    Reply this comment
  10. fish
    fish 11 April, 2013, 16:50

    Teddy,

    Hey smooth operator you know that those are the max amounts….well the legal max amounts anyway. You brought it up so yeah maybe you should be checking the documentation rather than engaging in your Tedster yapping.

    You are a caution as well “Big Buddy”. LOL Ted lol!

    Reply this comment
  11. Donkey
    Donkey 11 April, 2013, 19:26

    It is a fact that every RAGWUS feeder is overpaid and underworked, so none of this is new, but it needs to be printed and talked about often, until we bring the crooks of the RAGWUS down and get rid of the public unions. 🙂

    Reply this comment
  12. Douglas
    Douglas 11 April, 2013, 19:55

    Garbage In, Garbage Out

    This is not new data, and it is irrelevant.

    Reply this comment
  13. Brown delta trout
    Brown delta trout 11 April, 2013, 22:05

    Another species of oppression.

    Reply this comment
  14. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 11 April, 2013, 22:46

    The Carp dreams of being qualified for a government job! Serving the public is tough.

    Reply this comment
  15. fish
    fish 12 April, 2013, 06:07

    The Carp dreams of being qualified for a government job! Serving the public is tough.

    LOL Teddy LOL!!!

    Reply this comment
  16. The Africanized Swarm of Ted Steele System
    The Africanized Swarm of Ted Steele System 12 April, 2013, 06:48

    LOL–OMG–BFF—–Poor Fishlips!

    Yes—- you should check the documentation! Doh!

    Good idea Homer—- and maybe BEFORE you start making the hyperbolic claims? Ya think?

    Oh my……..I try to teach these tea brewing guys but they learn very s l o w l y……

    Discuss now–

    Reply this comment
  17. Ted Steele, Navigator
    Ted Steele, Navigator 12 April, 2013, 08:46

    You know…..the small bags that are used to brew tea…..and no other meaning whatsoever…..mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm……nnnnniiiiiiice.

    Reply this comment
  18. fish
    fish 12 April, 2013, 10:46

    Okay now Teddy it’s not fair to gang up on me with….what is it now….four personalities? The Anglicized Flock on Monty Python Characters and Crack Lesbian Commando Unit Ted Steele P90X System, Ted Steele, Masturbator, Ulysses Uhaul…Pack and Ship….pack n ship!, and Queeg.

    I bow to your superior numbers Teddy you have vanquished me….
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    …on this thread.

    Wheeeeeee.

    Reply this comment
  19. Ted Steele, Navigator
    Ted Steele, Navigator 12 April, 2013, 12:01

    Fish– Masturbator? I’m not so sure that this type of language is condoned out here. I know that prior restraint has been directed towards at least me in re my comments about the tea bags so you may want to re-consider the lexicon. I understand you’re just projecting but I have a single personality out here little buddy– thems the CWD rules….

    Reply this comment
  20. fish
    fish 12 April, 2013, 12:35

    Masturbator….? One of Carlins seven words you can’t say on TV or the radio? I hadn’t been informed,

    Reply this comment
  21. Ted Steele, Navigator
    Ted Steele, Navigator 12 April, 2013, 13:49

    so stipulate Fish—- that’s why the chilling effect of the prior restraint so squarely aimed at the Ted Steele System ™ re the tea bags was so…well….chilling.

    Reply this comment
  22. fish
    fish 12 April, 2013, 14:45

    so stipulate Fish—- that’s why the chilling effect of the prior restraint so squarely aimed at the Ted Steele System ™ re the tea bags was so…well….chilling.

    I understand all of those words….but arranged in a sentence like that…..well not so much. Is that an example of the “secret language” you and the other voices in your head use to communicate with each other?

    Reply this comment
  23. Ted Steele, Navigator
    Ted Steele, Navigator 12 April, 2013, 16:18

    Fishlips— I’m not sure that you do understand all of those words. But that is perfectly ok. I think the voices you are hearing are telling you that I am all of the other posters. I appreciate that because it saves alot of posting time for me out here.

    Think about it little buddy.

    Reply this comment
  24. fish
    fish 13 April, 2013, 08:01

    I think the voices you are hearing are telling you that I am all of the other posters.

    Now I’m hearing voices?? You are just adorable!

    Gorbachev sings Tractors: Turnip, Buttocks!

    Reply this comment
  25. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 13 April, 2013, 15:43

    The Carp has cracked. Pull it together buddy. We need your negativity on CWD. Creates stimulating discourse.

    Reply this comment
  26. fish
    fish 13 April, 2013, 20:47

    Pack and Ship U….pack and ship! Make it your mantra….err wait!

    Reply this comment
  27. Ted Steele, Prosecutor
    Ted Steele, Prosecutor 13 April, 2013, 21:30

    Poor Fishlips…..

    Reply this comment
  28. Willie Nelson
    Willie Nelson 14 April, 2013, 01:42

    Mommas don’t let your babies grow up to be private sector workers.

    Reply this comment
  29. Donkey
    Donkey 14 April, 2013, 06:36

    Ted Steals, from the taxpayers. 🙂

    Reply this comment
  30. Ted Steele, Prosecutor
    Ted Steele, Prosecutor 14 April, 2013, 09:24

    and his little buddy Duncey…….so sad.

    Reply this comment
  31. fish
    fish 15 April, 2013, 12:23

    ….and his little buddy Duncey

    LOL…ROTFLMAO……..cough choke……ahhhh!

    Teddy you are truly the pause that refreshes!!

    Reply this comment
  32. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 15 April, 2013, 20:30

    Money well spent by the taxpayers.

    Reply this comment

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