States are facing terrible deficits and much of the problem is due to the promises made to public employees when times were better than they are now.
What if government workers earned the average of what private workers earn? States and localities would save $339 billion a year from their more than $2.1 trillion budgets. These savings are larger than the combined estimated deficits for 2010 and 2011 of every state in America.Of course, public employees' unions have their excuses for how they're ruining local governments just as they have ruined the car companies.
In a separate survey, the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis compares the compensation of public versus private workers in each of the 50 states. Perhaps not coincidentally, the pay gap is widest in states that have the biggest budget deficits, such as New Jersey, Nevada and Hawaii. Of the 40 states that have a budget deficit so far this year, 28 would have a balanced budget were it not for the windfall to government workers.
The union response is that government workers deserve all this because they are more educated and highly skilled. That may account for some of the pay differential but not the blowout benefits. The unions also neglect one of the greatest perks of government employment: job security. Short of shooting up a Post Office, government workers rarely get fired or laid off.When you start reading the sob stories out of your state government about draconian cuts in favored programs because of their looming budget deficits, you can look at the real culprits - those privileged state workers who are raking it in while the rest of the people pay for their generous benefits.
If government workers were underpaid, we'd expect high attrition rates, as they pursued better private opportunities. The reality is the opposite. Cato Institute economist Chris Edwards has analyzed Department of Labor statistics and found that private workers are three times more likely to quit their jobs than are government workers.