Regardless of exactly how much the benefits of public employees add up to, there are other problems at stake. Up to 2013, nationwide unfunded liabilities for retiree health and pension coverage summed between one and four billion dollars (Reilly, 2013). This is a significant shortfall for governments to make up in compensating their employees. If public employees are being compensated with benefits even slightly higher than private employees, perhaps benefit costs should be reduced to assure overall government fiscal stability. Answering the Research QuestionsIn regards to the research question as to whether government employees make more or less than in the private sector, this author defers. Judging from multiple studies on federal and local governments, there is no strong consensus as to where the pay differential lies and why. Comparing salary across industries, locations, and job classifications is simply too difficult of a question to paint in broad strokes. Issues of experience and human capital are likely to
15contribute to pay differentials, but existing attempts to standardize a measure of their financial contribution to the salary debate have as of yet been unsuccessful. However, this author will answer several related questions. Is it equitable to pay a government employee less than a private employee for the same work? It is this researcher’s belief that it is, but only if public employee benefits are more generous than the private employee. This is an equitable trade off. In order to gain the benefits of more generous paid leave, health insurance, and pension benefits, it is justifiable to pay the government employee less. This remains true given the legal property interest that a tenured government employee has in their position. Compensation is made up of more than just strictly money. Job security and fringe benefits also play into the calculation. However, the public sector needs to keep in mind other considerations regarding compensation. If the government is having a difficult time recruiting or retaining quality employees, this compensation should be reviewed. Many government jobs are thankless, difficult ones. The fact that every government employee is a public figure should also be considered. This loss of privacy can have an effect on employees and governments should remain flexible in their ability to adjust compensation to provide adequate recruiting and retention. Flexibility is also needed in compensation for other government job details. For example, a cash handler in a private business and one dealing with federal funds require differentbackground checks, training, and suffer different consequences for breaking the law. Anyone dealing with public funds may deserve additional compensation in comparison to a private position due to the fact that these funds belong to the citizens, not just to a customer or business owner.
16The second research question is in regard to public employee benefits. Non-monetary benefits play a significant role in the job market.