The federal government encourages a certain “spin” regarding wages and salaries. Both taxation and regulation enforce a kind of accounting fraud in nearly all wage contracts. Employees receive a statement when they get paid, but that statement is not complete. Only half of an employee’s Social Security contributions are listed, for example — though, from the employers’ point of view, that unlisted “employer’s contribution” is just as much a part of a workers’ wage as the amount written on the check.
Most folks don’t see a full dollar-value listing of their benefit package at time of payment, either.
Of course, some things just can’t be accounted for in money terms.
In charming, smaller towns — like, say, Traverse City, Michigan, or Port Townsend, Washington — folks have been known to explain those towns’ somewhat depressed wage rates with a rhyme: “The view of the bay is part of your pay.”
And then there’s job security.
In a 2012 report comparing private sector jobs to federal government jobs, the benefit of public sector job security went unacknowledged. Naturally enough.
What we learn is that government employees tend to make a bit more that private sector employees, but, when you include benefit packages, their rates of remuneration are much higher — 16 percent higher.
But then, if to prove that the government really is all about equality, it’s not at the top end that government workers prove wildly overpaid; it’s at the less-credentialed “low end.” These job pay 36 percent more than comparable private sector jobs.
What is often not addressed in the wage and benefit debate is the fact that lower-skilled private sector workers are also disproportionately harmed by federal regulation, subsidies and other misguided policies.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.