The next time someone you know who works for state or local government starts whining about how poorly compensated they are, pull out your smart phone and head straight for TransparentNevada.com. The site is maintained by the Nevada Policy Research Institute and was updated with the newest data today.
There you will find the base pay, overtime and benefits for more than 132,000 government employees statewide for the 2012 calendar year. You may look up data by name, job title and by jurisdiction — from the state of Nevada to all the counties and many cities and specialty agencies. The data goes back a few years for many agencies.
Since the state Legislature is in session and state workers are engaged in their biennial weeping of buckets full of crocodile tears, I scanned the data across various pay grades for random individuals to see their tales of woe hold water.
Recently a Jennifer Knight, identifying herself as a state employee, penned a letter to the Reno newspaper detailing how downtrodden and underpaid state workers are. She claimed many are on food stamps and qualify for Medicaid. She stated:
“When the economy bottomed out, we rose to Nevada’s call. We spent less time with our families so that fellow Nevadans could clothe and feed their children and maintain their dignity and independence. We sacrificed so that Nevada may recover because we believe in its recovery, and it is recovering. The average weekly wage just hit a record high! It is now time for Nevada to make its state employees whole, for our sacrifices have become untenable.”
It’s a familiar story.
Checking TransparentNevada I found a Jennifer A. Knight, who is an unemployment insurance representative 3, and sure enough this Ms. Knight has seen a pay cut of 4.7 percent since 2009, when she got a hefty pay raise while the private sector was tanking.
According to the Census Bureau, the median household income in Nevada has fallen 14 percent since 2008. Of course, many of these households had a wage earner’s pay fall 100 percent.
When I checked those couple dozen names of state workers across salary ranges from $10,000 to more than $100,000, almost universally, the workers got decent pay hikes between 2008 and 2009 but have taken — due to unpaid furlough days imposed by the governor (Spent less time with their families?) — modest pay cuts between 2011 and 2012. Most cuts from the 2009 highs appear to range from about 3 percent to 6 percent. There were a few larger cuts, some of which could be explained by individual circumstances such as leave of absence or resignation sometime during 2012.
Don’t let them tell you how much worse off they are than the private sector. A check of a different database, this one at the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation reveals 2012 Nevada average weekly wages of: private sector, $815; state government, $898; local government, $996; federal government, $1,251.
By the way, the governor said in April that as of July 2014 state workers will no longer have to take unpaid furlough days. Problem solved? I suspect state workers will still be whining.