Study: State Workers Paid Less

By: Lauren Zakalik Email
By: Lauren Zakalik Email

MSU economist Charles Ballard calls it an "urban legend" that state employees have an inflated workforce, extravagant wages and excellent benefits.

And he says he's got a study to back that up.

"I was surprised when I found out the extent to which public employees have shrunken in numbers and given back in wages and benefits," Ballard says at a press conference Monday.

His study-- which was commissioned by some state workers unions-- shows that all public workers, no matter their education level, make less than their peers in the private sector.

The study shows Michigan has reduced its workforce by 18 percent, or 11,000 people between 2001 and 2008, saving the state $600 million.

Other cost-saving measures taken include little or no payraise between 2002 and 2009, furlough days taken between 2003 and 2005, insurance changes and changes to pensions.

In all, it has saved the state $3.7 billion.

But some say it's not enough.

"We're paying too many people to do more things than we can afford to do," says economist Patrick Anderson of the Anderson Economic Group.

Anderson says the study is timely, but government needs to be cut in the face of a nearly $2 billion deficit.

"There's no getting around the fact that with our current income in the state and current employment level, we cannot afford to pay for all government programs at the level we had," Anderson says.

Ballard, joined by state workers Monday, says otherwise; he supports legislators raising certain taxes instead.

"I think if they make the decision based on facts, they will be compelled to think twice, three times, four times, before trying to balance the budget on the backs of state workers," he says.

He tells this study is not in response to House Speaker Andy Dillon's proposed health plan, which would pool public workers' health insurance. Ballard says he's been working on this study since March.

Do You Think Cutting Government Jobs Is A Good Way To Balance Michigan's Budget?

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  • by Anonymous on Aug 19, 2009 at 06:29 AM
    Union commissioned- When I saw this, I knew what the rest of the story said. They were not getting enough. You get the same information from the experts that you see on infomecials, they say that it is the greatest thing since the invention of the wheel and everyone else is wrong..
  • by Me Location: Lansing on Aug 18, 2009 at 12:45 PM
    Stop and think, do they really even work 40 hours a week? I really don't think so. They move like a snail in getting things done and half the time their work is sloppy. It would take 4 state employees to do one private sector job.
  • by Kelly Location: Jackson on Aug 18, 2009 at 09:40 AM
    We should always be suspicious of self-interest studies or polls. Larry, from Jackson, is correct. It is rare for a state employee to work 40 hours per week. However, he is understating the facts when he says that they receive all the holidays off. Yes, they receive all the holidays, and they also receive three (3) times as many PTO days (paid time off) as private sector employees. Additionally, their health benefits, retirements and pensions are far superior to those in the private sector. OUR EMPLOYEES enjoy far better working conditions than we do.
  • by LastLSJReader Location: Okemos on Aug 17, 2009 at 05:11 PM
    Well, lets hear it from the morons that spout no-new-taxes day in and day out!
  • by Larry Location: Jackson on Aug 17, 2009 at 03:55 PM
    The Government workers work less hours. In the private sector 45-50 hours per week are required to keep you job. Government people work 40 max and get all the holidays off.
  • by Ballard Bias on Aug 17, 2009 at 03:43 PM
    What is wrong with this article. Union-commissioned study, not without bias. MSU economist, not exactly unbiased. Loss of 18,000 state workers and still we are getting the basic services we need. State workers have openly said that state management is top heavy, overpaid and living off the backs of the state grunts. Yes the state workers took pay cuts to bring them more in line with the private sector too bad the governor and state legislatures didn't follow suit. I work for a private company and I can remember the day when workers at our company chomped at the bit to get a cushy state job. Now that isn't such a big deal because the private sector had to offer better pay to keep workers. If private jobs are so lucrative why don't the state workers bid for a job in the private sector. Now they argue they are underpaid. I'm not shedding any tears that make their living taking from my paycheck when it is not my choice. You have a choice to buy our product.
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