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Public Sector Compensation Myths Debunked

EPI economist Monique Morrissey in her analysis reveals that wages and salaries for Connecticut public sector workers are actually lower on average than their counterparts in the private sector. Public employees do, however, receive health and retirement benefits that are, on average, of greater value, resulting in total compensation that is roughly equivalent.
“Public-sector workers are a punching bag for activists who want to shrink the size of government and weaken unions,” said Morrissey, who also serves on the National Academy of Social Insurance. “Connecticut lawmakers should ignore false claims that their public employees are overpaid. Connecticut taxpayers are getting a bargain, because teachers, social workers, firefighters and other skilled government workers view public service as a calling, not as a way to get rich,” she added.
Click here for Morrissey’s summary of her study at the EPI’s blog.
Connecticut AFL-CIO President Lori J. Pelletier weighed in on EPI’s findings, saying they “are sorely needed in what has become an increasingly fact-free state.” She added, “Connecticut legislators don’t need Wall Street and corporate bias to build a fair economy that works for everyone. What they need is reliable information, and once again the Yankee Institute has failed miserably.”
Pelletier’s comments refer to a 2015 report prepared for the anti-union Yankee Institute for Public Policy by the American Enterprise Institute’s (AEI) Andrew Biggs. The think tank has since used Biggs’ data to attempt to deceive policymakers into believing that Connecticut’s public-sector workers are overcompensated when compared to private sector workers.
“We applaud EPI for taking on this issue,” said AFT Connecticut President Jan Hochadel. “They’ve shown that when the facts and numbers are actually studied, we see that public sector workers are not overcompensated as folks have been led to believe. EPI has demonstrated sound research is better than propaganda.” added Hochadel, who previously taught physics and science in the Connecticut Technical High School System (CTHSS).
The Yankee Institute has aggressively lobbied legislators to slash public workers’ pay as well as their pension and healthcare benefits to balance state budgets. Their influence peddling has for more than year relied on Biggs’ flawed data, shielding CEOs and hedge fund managers from paying their fair share to sustain Connecticut’s quality of life.
Click here for a retired community college faculty member’s response to the Yankee Institute’s propaganda.
“State workers don’t make widgets,” said AFT Connecticut vice-president for public employees Chuck Morrell. “They plow roads when it snows, respond to emergencies and natural disasters and protect public safety in numerous ways that impact everyone’s lives. In other words, we are a part of the solution, not the problem that the ruling class wants to deceive the public into believing,” added Morrell, who for 31 years worked to maintain the Student Center at the University of Connecticut’s main campus in Storrs.
EPI’s Morrissey also noted that Connecticut workers without college degrees are compensated somewhat more in the public sector, while those with college and graduate degrees are compensated somewhat less. 
“Because public-sector workers are more likely to have college degrees, public employers — and taxpayers — are getting a bargain while ensuring a decent standard of living for less educated workers,” said Morrissey. 
The reality is that many low-wage employers in the private sector shift employee costs onto taxpayer-funded programs. By paying a livable wage with decent benefits, public sector employers avoid these extra costs — a win-win scenario for workers and taxpayers alike.
Click here for a recent study on the true public costs of low-wage work in the region.

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