This is the fifth and final in a series of fact checks this week reviewing former Gov. Tim Pawlenty's book - Courage to Stand - as he tours the nation promoting it and exploring the possibility of a run for president.
Like many of his fellow Republicans, Pawlenty believes that public sector workers are overpaid.
"Why are government employees making 22 percent more than their private-sector counterparts, plus enjoying better benefits and nearly perfect job security?," Pawlenty wrote on page 276.
Pawlenty gets this one right, with a few caveats.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), public sector workers - including all federal, state and local employees - make roughly 22 percent more in raw wages compared to the private sector.
Generally speaking, public sector employees get a wider variety of benefits as well, such as health care, pension and better paid leave. For instance, in 2010, it cost state and local governments an average of $13.85 per worker to cover benefits compared to an average of $8.20 in the private sector.
Many economists argue the disparity between private sector pay and public sector pay is due to the larger number of blue-collar jobs in the private workforce. These jobs pay less, effectively drawing down average wages.
Note that Pawlenty is talking about an overall average. In many instances, job-to-job comparisons show that public workers make less than their private sector counterparts. For instance, a lawyer working for the government makes an average of $98,120 annually, while a lawyer working in the private sector makes $137,540 a year - a significant difference. And government economists make about one-third less than their private-sector counterparts.
All in all, this claim is accurate.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2009 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates by ownership: Cross-industry, private ownership only, accessed Jan 27, 2011
The Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2009 National Industry-Specific Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: Federal, State and Local Government, accessed Jan. 26, 2011
The Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employer Costs for Employee Compensation - Sept. 2010, Dec. 8, 2010
The Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employer costs for employee compensation, September 2009
The New York Times, Are Federal Workers Overpaid?, by Nancy Folbre, Oct. 13, 2009
The Cato Institute, Employee Compensation in State and Local Governments, by Chris Edwards, Jan. 2010
The Cato Institute, Federal Pay Continues Rapid Ascent, by Chris Edwards, Aug. 24, 2009
Those are some gigantic caveats!! Pawlenty's statement is really misleading as your own evidence shows. How can you possibly call that accurate?!?!
It is ridiculous to call this claim accurate, and then slip in at the end that it's premised on an average. It's fundamentally misleading to refer to "average" incomes, when the sorts of work performed by the public sector, on average, requires more education or more experience than the average private sector job.
I don't see how this doesn't get another "misleading" rating. Or maybe a new category: "Accurate but worthless," if you're feeling generous. The numbers may be technically accurate, but they don't actually tell you anything about how public employees are compensated for equivalent work, let alone factoring in education levels (which tend to be higher on the public side) or years of experience (which again tends to be higher on the public side). If Pawlenty is using these numbers as a part of any sort of policy argument, he should be ashamed.
So you are comparing PhD's that work in the Dept of Health with people who work at Walmart and McDonalds. Do an across the board apples to apples comparison than get back to me. This is a load of barnwash.
This is really ridiculous. Pawlenty's reference to "counterparts" implies exactly the sort of job-to-job comparison that proves him wrong. The connection between the analysis and the ratings in this feature is so weak that it's become like entertainment.
Poligraph must be under the direct oversight of Michelle Bachman.
If the author had actually read the entire government BLS report, she would have noticed the page 4 "Technical Note" before giving Pawlenty a pass.
"Compensation cost levels in state and local governments should not be directly compared with levels in private industry. Differences between these sectors stem from such factors such as variation in work activities and occupational structures".
While on the topic of management of the public trust, congratulations Catharine Richert, you've just earned the equivalent of 22% overpayment for your substandard journalism.
Next time, Catharine, please read every letter of every line of that which you cite as 'evidence'; or maybe just replace the batteries in your "'Poligraph" before offering your reports to the readers.
This claim is typical of the same old worn out tactics and ploys used by politicians to distract people from more pressing issues, like cronyism for example.
Maybe Pawlenty's friend described in the link below is now making 22% more...