We mentioned a couple of weeks ago that there's a conversation gaining steam in the country about the compensation of public sector employees, and how it compares to the private sector. Kevin Drum over at Mother Jones weighed in yesterday with a thoughtful take -- though not a conclusive one:
This is a hard question to answer. How do you make sure you're really looking at comparable jobs? How do you value different benefits packages? How do you adjust for things like age, experience level, and regional cost of living differences? Has public sector comp gone up faster than inflation, or merely faster than more stagnant private sector median wages? Has anyone taken a broad, reasonably rigorous look at this? I'd sure be interested if someone has.
Frankly there may not be one correct answer to the question, "Are public sector employees overpaid?" Matthew Yglesias makes the case that the more important question is whether public employees are doing valuable work, and he's right, though we still think the questions Drum is asking are worth hashing out.