Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Those damn public employees!

While I have no solution for states like Wisconsin (or New York, for that matter) that have spent themselves into a deep budget hole by years of irresponsible financial management, I do have an issue with some of the populist claims that public employees, like faculty members at State colleges and universites, are a privileged, greedy class living high on the hog with their extravagant pay and benefits.

These claims are ignorant bullshit.

The Economic Policy Institute recently released a study where they compared public and private sector employees in Wisconsin and came to the following conclusion: 

"Controlling for a larger range of earnings predictors—including not just education but also age, experience, gender, race, etc., Wisconsin public-sector workers face an annual compensation penalty of 11%. Adjusting for the slightly fewer hours worked per week on average, these public workers still face a compensation penalty of 5% for choosing to work in the public sector."

Looking at the above graph, I know for a fact that very few faculty members at the community college where I teach make $74K and NONE make over $90K despite the fact that many have PhDs and years of experience.  We're below average for even public employees.

While this might sound like a lot of money to some people earning less, one has to account for the years of lost wages and retirement contributions when we were in graduate school earning virtually nothing and the tens of thousands of dollars in student loans some people leave college owing the government (I came from a poor family, I'm still paying off my student loans in my late 40s).  Quite honestly, it's not worth it unless you really feel called into teaching as a career.

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