Press Release: Public vs. Private Sector Compensation in RI

Press Release
Public vs Private Sector Compensation in RI

High-Pay Government Workers Supported by Low-Pay Private Workers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 28, 2012

Government workers in the Ocean State collect significantly higher compensation than their private sector counterparts – across the board – according to data recently compiled as part of national study for the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, a non-partisan local think tank.
Among the findings in the report published today by the Center, Ocean State public sector employees enjoy compensation levels that are 26.5% higher than their private sector counterparts; a rate 41% higher than the New England average and 78% higher than the national norm. These results were calculated via a statistical regression analysis after controlling for factors such as education and experience. On average RI government workers receive 58% more in ‘benefits’ than private workers in RI.

Further, within the New England region, RI public employees: are unique in collecting a higher “base” pay than private employees; work the fewest total hours; receive a higher paid time off value than in the private sector; and benefit from a 41% higher total compensation premium than the regional average.
“Rhode Islanders want a government that works for all citizens. But it may not be so much that state and municipal employees are grossly overpaid, but more that our state’s private sector has such shockingly low compensation levels,” said Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “This is yet another clear indication of how public policy in the Ocean State has favored certain groups while severely harming our economy and our business sector.”
According to the study conducted by economists William Even, of Miami University, and David Macpherson, of Trinity University, government workers in RI, on average, collect $100,217 in total compensation as compared with $83,419 for private employees. Respectively, base-pay breaks out to $61,046 vs $58,664, with benefits at $39,171 vs $24,755. A preliminary review of the effects of the state’s 2011 pension reform showed its effect to be negligible on these comparisons.
The data raises serious questions about the sustainability of a system where a low-pay private sector is supporting a high-pay public sector. “Are we heading towards a Central Falls type situation where pension benefits have to be cut dramatically, or even worse, a Scranton, PA situation where city worker pay was cut to minimum wage”, inquired Stenhouse. “It is evident that new policies that promote economic growth and increase our tax base are the best way to ensure that we can afford to maintain current public employee compensation levels”, concluded Stenhouse.
The full report, with additional data, tables, analysis, and methodology can be found at http://www.rifreedom.org/2012/11/ri-public-and-private-sector-compensation-comparison/.
The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, a non-partisan public policy think tank, is the state’s leading free-enterprise advocacy organization. With a credo that freedom is indispensable to citizens’ well-being and prosperity, the Center’s mission is to stimulate a rigorous exchange of ideas with the goal of restoring competitiveness to Rhode Island through the advancement of market-based reform solutions.

Media Contact:
Mike Stenhouse: 401.429.6115, info@rifreedom.org

Rhode Island Labor Force and Employment, January 2007 to October 2012

Rhode Island Employment Snapshot, October 2012

Rhode Island’s unemployment rate fell one tenth of a point in October, to 10.4%, still second worst in the nation, after Nevada. However, for the second month in a row, the Ocean State led the nation in actual employment increase. While the data offers an encouraging picture, the boom in jobs over the past two months has been so historically large that it ought to be treated with caution until other economic indicators begin to substantiate the results.

The first chart below shows Rhode Island’s trends in labor force (employed and looking for work) and employment since the beginning of the recession in January 2007. The second chart shows the labor force and employment pictures for Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut as each state’s current percentage of January 2007.

Rhode Island Labor Force and Employment, January 2007 to October 2012

 

RI, MA, and CT Labor Force and Employment, October 2012 Percentage of January 2007

Minimum Wage Hike Will Cause Loss of 200 Teen Jobs in RI

Watch this video by LearnLiberty.org to see how increasing the minimum wage increases unemployment among low-skilled workers

On the heels of a national report that painted a bleak employment picture for teens, the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity issued a policy note today that shows that the Rhode Island General Assembly has made the teen jobs situation even worse in the Ocean State when it raised the state minimum wage by 35 cents to $7.75.

 According to updated data made available to the Center from an earlier study(i) by nationally recognized economists, Rhode Island teens are projected to see 200 fewer jobs this year as a result of the minimum wage hike. This loss, 1% of teens employed in 2011, will hit especially hard on those who do not have high school degrees; this group is expected to suffer 75% of the anticipated loss.

Rhode Island’s teen unemployment rate in 2011 (28.3%) is already 3.4 percentage points higher than the national average of 24.9%. The minimum wage increase will make this discrepancy even worse.

The data, which will be part of a more comprehensive teen employment report the Center plans to release in July, is “yet another example of the death-by-a-thousand-cuts syndrome that is depressing our state’s growth,” said Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. Continual small increases in taxes and regulations are often implemented for compassionate reasons, but it is the contention of the Center that the cumulative effect of these polices has been devastating for area businesses, for the state’s economy, and especially for those seeking work.

“Imagine that because of this minimum wage increase two hundred more Rhode Island teens are not going to have the chance to earn a paycheck, to learn important business skills, or to build their personal résumés,” concluded Stenhouse.

(i) “Update of Evan and Macpherson, 2010.” Economists David Macpherson (Trinity University) and William Even (Miami University) released a study in 2010 that examined the impact of the federal minimum wage increase between 2007 and 2009. 
 
Media Coverage:
6/19/2012: Prov. Business News, Minimum Wage Bump Will Cost 200 Jobs
6/19/2012: GoLocalProv, Minimum Wage Hike Will Cost 200 Teen Jobs, Group Says