Missouri Public Workers Are Paid Much More Than President of Labor Union Claims
Wisconsin isn’t the only state that’s talking about labor issues these days. In an editorial that ran in the Springfield News-Leader earlier this month, Gerald McEntee argued that public employees in Missouri face difficulty in the current economy and are lower paid than their counterparts in the private sector. McEntee is the president of a labor union, so the fact that he would argue on behalf of public workers is not surprising. McEntee wrote:
Missouri state workers are not a privileged class. They are the lowest-paid of any in the country. The median pay for state employees providing direct care services in Missouri is about $22,700 annually. That’s $22,000 a year for citizens who give treatment and dignity to those with severe disabilities at the Nevada Habilitation Center.
In reality, state workers are paid more than the author claims. Using Show-Me Living to find salary data for public employees in Missouri, I found that the median earnings of public employees is actually much higher — it’s $29,923. Plus, in 2009, 38 percent of percent all state workers (including full-time and part-time workers) made more than $40,000. There are 560 employees on the government’s payroll who earned more than $100,000 in 2009. Gov. Jay Nixon himself made $123,970 that year. On the list of highest paid public employees, he only ranks 101.
2009 Gross Pay for State Worker In Missouri (includes FT and PT)
(Source: Show Me Living, n = 65,535)
In the editorial, McEntee gets the $22,700 figure by restricting his view to “those providing direct care services” in Missouri. The author makes a mistake by focusing on a small group of state workers. He doesn’t take into account the wages and salaries of all public employees in Missouri. It’s not possible to determine from the article which job roles he is lumping into this category, nor is it possible to determine whether they are full- or part-time positions.
There are many, many types of workers who provide direct care services and who have salaries higher than $22,000. In fact, the highest-paid people on the state government’s payroll work in a direct care capacity. In 2009, the highest-paid person by the state government was a physician in the mental health department, and this person earned $301,991. He’s certainly not alone in his income bracket. In 2009, six individuals earned more than $200,000: three physicians, a medical director, and two health administrators. (I used the Show-Me Living web tool for government payroll to find this information.)
Overall, public employees are making more than employees in the private sector. According to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis:
Compensation by Industry — Year 2009
|Private nonfarm employees||State government employees|
|Wage & Salary Disbursements / Total full-time & part-time employment||$32,255||$35,157|
|Total compensation / Total full-time & part-time employment||$39,180||$48,323|
I haven’t studied the strict definitions of “compensation” and “wage and salary disbursements,” but I suspect that the difference between these two figures likely includes the cost of pensions, health insurance, etc. In either metric, workers in the public sector make more than workers in the private sector.