Is the private sector underpaying or does the public sector over pay?

That is a question I have been thinking about lately while covering the ongoing dispute between the city of Glendora and its municipal employees association as well as when looking at the salaries of various city employees.

Is the private sector employee rife against the higher pay and much better benefits public employees receive caused by an objective discontent with the misuse of public funds or is it just because their jealous?

When talking about merit increases, benefits, salaries, concessions, etc., many of the Glendora council members tried to make a case for their argument to impose concessions on the employees association by saying, basically, you still have it better than the private sector.

Getting raises for “satisfactory” performance wouldn’t happen in the private sector, Mayor Ken Herman said. And most people agree that government pensions are much better (in terms of compensation) than 401Ks or social security.

And make the argument all you want about the need for pension reform and how CALPERS is a drain on government, that is now what I am talking about here.

The question is this: Do private sector jobs pay for the work employees do? Think about it. How many people out there believe they are paid what they deserve?

No idea? That’s OK. Gallup has a poll for you.

In a 2008 Gallup Poll, half of Americans believed they were underpaid and only 3 percent believed they were overpaid. Middle and lower income earners made up a large portion of those feeling they weren’t getting their dues.

So, hypothetically speaking, if private sector workers are often underpaid, wouldn’t that distort our objectivity or perception when evaluating the pay of someone, who on average, makes more than us for the same job – such as public employees?

That makes me wonder: who has it right? Public pay or private pay?

You have to acknowledge the possibility – especially given the fact that private company CEOs, board members and executives pull in million dollar + salaries – that the public sector may pay its middle and lower wage employees closer to their worth rather than overpaying for the same jobs that pay less in the private sector.

If that is the case, should officials and the public make the comparison to private employee pay as much as they do, when being critical of high pay for public employees – or should it be vice versa? Should we be critical of private pay and look to the public sector as a (gasp!) good example?

I am not claiming to know the answer, but it is within the realm of possibility.

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