Tough Time To Be Working In Government?

Total compensation has skyrocketed for government workers this century

The New York Times recently published an article about government employees that claims this is a “tough time to be working in government.”

The article, “Public Servants Are Losing Their Foothold in the Middle Class” said there was a “steady erosion of the public sector.”

The New York Times wrote: “For generations of Americans, working for a state or local government — as a teacher, firefighter, bus driver or nurse — provided a comfortable nook in the middle class. No less than automobile assembly lines and steel plants, the public sector ensured that even workers without a college education could afford a home, a minivan, movie nights and a family vacation.”

ForTheRecord says: Government employees in this country — at the local, state and federal level, as well as school and state university employees — have not suffered economically this century.

In Michigan, government workers had an average total compensation of $65,596 in 2000 (when stated in 2017 dollars after adjusting for inflation). That rose to $105,017 in 2017, a 60 percent increase.

Nationwide, government worker compensation jumped from $71,634 in 2000 to $123,214 in 2017, a 72 percent increase. Those national figures are stated in 2017 dollars. Total compensation includes not only salaries, but also the cost of fringe benefits.

The data for these projections comes from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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As part of our efforts on government transparency, we obtained data on the compensation of most public employees in the state. This information has been used to fact check claims about salaries, verify data from other open records requests, and hold government spending accountable.

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