Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Why USA Today lied

Today the newspaper USA Today published a story, Wisconsin and Private Sector Pay. It's a bogus story with bogus numbers, and it's unfair for USA Today to have published this story suggesting public sector employees earn more than private sector employees, in terms of pay and benefits.

Despite all the statistics in the story, they more than half way into it, wrote:

"The analysis included full and part-time workers and did not adjust for specific jobs, age, education or experience. In an earlier job-to-job comparison, USA TODAY found that state and local government workers make about the same salary as those in the private sector but get more generous benefits."

This means they compared total of all the employees' pay and benefits by state at large. Clearly public sector jobs don't include the vast majority of jobs, especially low wage jobs, and don't include many employers who don't provide or provide only basic healthcare insurance or pension benefits.

They didn't compare similar jobs, employees with similar education or experience, or employees with similar responsibilities. The studies which have done have concluded public sector employees, and especially federal, employees where grossly underpaid with fewer or less benefits.

This is true of federal employees which have consisted been under paid by 20-22% since the first study commissioned by President Carter. Studies by every president since, including Reagan and George W. Bush, have shown this to be true. The benefits of federal employment is in retirement where the annuity is about the middle of state and equivalent private sector empoyees.

Almost all local, state and especially federal employee have rights and protection dictated in local, state and federal laws. The private sector doesn't have such laws and can avoid not providing them to their employees. It has been unions over the decades who have helped private sector workers gain those same benefits.

To compare governments with corporations, and really small to middle sized companies, who short change employees for short term profit is not fair. The writers at USA Today know that and should have written an article which reflected the truth and be fair with all employees, and not bias it against public sector employees.

This story was disingenuous of the truth to public sector employees, and should retract it or correct it to use statistics appropriate for the discussion.

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