Just Say No to Pay Increases for Government Workers

Gov. Mead’s budget prioritizes spending increases, and that’s bad news for taxpayers. One priority is the proposed increase in government worker salaries as a way to stem worker turnover. But hiking state salaries would mean an even greater increase to government worker pension plans, paid for primarily by taxpayers, many of whom may not even have a pension plan. This session the legislature has the opportunity to stem the spending tide and ensure taxpayers are treated like more than just a wallet for the governor’s spending spree, by rejecting the pay hike for government workers.    

The governor proposes to add $50 million to the salary budget of the bureaucrat-voting block. The governor justifies the hike by citing an increase in state employee turnover.

However, it turns out that the government sector turnover rate in Wyoming is miniscule compared to the private sector. In the first quarter of 2013 (Jul/Aug/Sept) turnover rate at the state and local level, excluding education and healthcare, amounted to 11.9 percent, up 0.5 percent from the first quarter 2012. Construction had a 36.5 percent turnover rate, professional business services a 30.7 percent turnover rate, and leisure and hospitality a 38.1 percent turnover rate.  The only area that comes close to the government sector’s low turnover rate is information technology, at 14.5 percent. In fact, the total state turnover rate in the first quarter of 2013 was 23.8 percent, about double the government sector turnover rate. 

Source: http://doe.state.wy.us/lmi/trends/1013/turnover.htm

Is the low government sector turnover rate on the rise? The answer is yes, slightly since the recession. But the change is not much different from  turnover in the private sector.

In fact, turnover in the government sector is far lower now than it was before the last recession. Government turnover was as high as 13.8 percent in Q1 2006 when it started to fall, bottoming out in Q1 2010 at 10.5 percent. It has crept up since the height of the recession, however, so has average turnover for all sectors in Wyoming. In Q1 2006 average turnover was 30.6 percent and fell to 21.7 percent in Q1 2010, still twice as high as government sector turnover. Average turnover also started to go up in Q1 2012, to 25.4 percent in Q1 2012 but has since dropped back down to 23.8 percent. Government sector turnover has gone up since 2010, but is still lower than what it was in 2006.

Source: http://doe.state.wy.us/lmi/turnover.htm

An surge in government salaries will also increase the liability taxpayers must bear for the government sector pension plan. Taxpayers already contribute $7.70 for every dollar contributed by bureaucrats, and many taxpayers don’t even have a pension plan.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the Mountain geographical area to which Wyoming belongs, only about 63 percent of private sector workers have access to any type of pension plan at all, while about 88 percent of government workers do.

The governor can hardly expect taxpayers to fund pay hikes and pension contributions for someone else. The governor and legislature must focus on spending and tax reductions to set the private economy on a sustainable growth path to prosperity

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3 Responses to Just Say No to Pay Increases for Government Workers

  1. Michael says:

    Nice article that shows gov’t turnover is way less than public turnover. But I would say Joe Sixpack won’t have to worry about the pay increases increases because Mead’s budget is flat, and coal, oil and gas, and the federal gov’t pay the lion’s share of what state gov’t costs. The real worry is that Obama’s war on coal will succeed and folks like you and me will have an income tax to pay for these poor bureaucrats who have a sweet deal compared to the rest of us.

    • Maureen Bader says:

      Michael, thank you for your comment. Gov. Mead’s budget is higher than last year and in many agencies, such as the Game and Fish department, budget cuts have been swamped by spending increases. As government spending continues to rise, while sources of revenue stagnate, government will look for new sources of revenue and yes, an income tax becomes a real threat. This is why we are calling for government to focus on core activities by eliminating programs such as corporate welfare.

  2. David says:


    You do realize that state workers are also worthy of their wages? And this is hardly a “pay raise.” That’s misleading. At best, in the private sector it would be the most modest cost of living adjustment. State workers last received salary increases in 2008. You do the math. If a salary loses approximately 2% purchasing power each year, then the average state worker is both bringing home less actual dollars (increases in federal taxes, insurances increases, and so forth) AND also has suffered a 10-12% loss in salary worth. So, a 2% or 2.5% increase is hardly the torrid scandalous abuse or waste you seem to portray. Do you as a private contractor negotiate your salary? So why is any increase for state workers beyond the pale?
    Perhaps you view them as second class citizens? They have families and children also. They are working members of your community, with houses, and lives, and a contribution to society. Why should state workers be denied periodic salary adjustments, especially those based on merit and performance?
    State agencies are losing workers, especially to the oilfields and energy development.
    As another commentor noted, you inflame the discussion by portraying the local citizen as bearing the burden of any state worker increases. You know this is far from true. Where would it come from? From the non-existent state income tax? Perhaps from the jealously guarded county coffers? Seriously, Maureen. But then again, you predicted massive pain and job losses after the gas tax increased. Oops! Maybe something about users paying fairly for what they use strikes you as a bridge too far. (By the way, boat owners and snowmobilers pay the fuel tax — so again, misguided attack on docks and snow trails. It comes from their contribution to the fuel tax.)
    At any rate, it’s high time you take your bitter and half-cocked Randian “anarco-capitalism” ideas somewhere else. Wyoming isn’t Canada, so stop acting like it is.


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