There is a widening gap between two major classes of income earners in North Carolina. In the modern-day version of the "haves" versus the "have-nots," state government workers earn significantly more in wages and benefits than North Carolina’s private sector workers.
Indeed, the wage gap between state government employees and private sector workers in North Carolina doubled from 2000-20091.
Average Annual Wage in North Carolina
Data from 2009 reveal state government workers earn an average wage of $44,158, compared to the private sector’s average wage of $39,350, a difference of 12.2 percent.
The 2009 wage gap double the 6 percent pay differential from 2000, when average state employee wages were $32,832 compared to average private sector earnings of $30,977.
An increase in state government employee average salaries of 34.5 percent from 2000 to 2009 – compared to just 27 percent for the private sector – accounts for the widening pay gap.
When factoring in estimated overall compensation, the gap between state government workers and the private sector widens even further. Using Bureau of Labor Statistics national estimates of average benefits (such as health care, pensions, paid leave, etc.) for state and local government employees and adding it to North Carolina’s average state government employee wages, total compensation packages for state workers reach $67,008. Conversely, average total compensation for North Carolina private sector workers totals $55,737 – for an alarming gap of 20 percent.2
Total Compensation in 2009
Furthermore, comparing wages of similar jobs in both state government and the private sector reveals striking pay differences. In one specific case, North Carolina private sector workers earn wages averaging roughly one-third less than their state government counterparts.
Average Wages for Select Industries in NC, 2009
|State Gov’t||Private Sector||Gap|
|Administrative and Waste Services||$37,480||$28,505||31.5%|
|Healthcare and Social Assistance||$43,628||$38,742||12.6%|
The State of North Carolina is facing another enormous budget deficit in 2011. Proposals to bring state government employee compensation in line with the state’s private sector would go a long way toward eliminating the state’s budget woes.
1. Quarterly Census Employment and Wages, NC Employment Security Commission. Available at: http://esesc23.esc.state.nc.us/d4/QCEWSelection.aspx
2. Source for compensation averages from BLS Employer Costs for Employee Compensation, news release March 2010. Author added national averages for benefits to wages of NC state employees and private sector employees from NC ESC data to arrive at total. This is the closest estimate available given data restraints. Available at: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/ecec.nr0.htm