Who Has Better Pay and Benefits—Workers in State Government or Private Industry?

Are state workers better paid than their counterparts in private industry? That question is likely to come up more often, as the state deals with a huge budget shortfall. The answer is generally no, but there are exceptions for individual occupations.

That’s the main finding of ISER economists Mouhcine Guettabi and Matthew Berman, who did the research for the Alaska Department of Administration. They analyzed the question in two ways, using different data sources. Both analysts reached the same broad conclusion: state workers are not on average paid more, whether you include just wages, or total compensation—wages plus benefits.

To see highlights of the findings, download the summary, Who Has Better Pay and Benefits—Workers in State Government or Private Industry? (PDF, 759KB) For more detailed information, download the full report, Overpaid or Underpaid? Public Employee Compensation in the State of Alaska (PDF, 3.04MB). If you have questions, get in touch with Mouhcine Guettabi, assistant professor of economics, at 907-786-5496 or mguettabi@alaska.edu, or Matthew Berman, professor of economics, at 907-786-5426 or mdberman@alaska.edu.

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Results of 2016 Survey of OCS Employees

Diwakar Vadapalli, assistant professor of public policy at ISER, is the lead author of Alaska Office of Children’s Services: Results of the 2016 Annual Staff Survey, a report recently released by the Alaska Citizen Review Panel. He is also the chair of that panel.  This report is not an ISER publication, but it adds to Dr. Vadapalli’s ongoing research on child welfare.

Federal and state laws require the Alaska Citizen Review Panel to review the policies, procedures, and practices of child protection services in Alaska and make recommendations for change. In 2015, the panel recommended that OCS re-structure its annual survey of employees and further analyze the resulting survey data. OCS responded by asking the panel to conduct the 2016 survey. In turn, Dr. Vadapalli enlisted students in his graduate-level research methods course at UAA to re-structure and carry out the survey.

Download the report (PDF) from the review panel’s website.

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