Why Some States Pay Public Workers More

Michael Medved

3/3/2011 5:20:04 PM - Michael Medved

A state-by-state study for USA TODAY showed startling differences in salaries for government workers. Nevada paid its state and local employees an average of $69,000 a year--$18,000 more than private sector salaries. Right next door, Utah paid only $50,000—just $2,600 more than private employees.

Does Nevada pay $19,000 more than Utah because its workers are that much more deserving and effective? Meanwhile, gritty, blue-collar Rhode Island paid its government workers $69,000, while booming Texas got away with just $51,000—actually $3,600 less than the average private sector employee!

Why should any state pay public workers more than necessary, or many thousands more than the for-profit economy? The state-by-state disparities are a reflection of the relative power of public worker unions, not the qualifications or job performance of the people who take taxpayer money for their salaries.