Category Archives: Public Sector

Public Sector Labor Relations Scholarship: Is There a “There,” There?

Source: Norma M. Riccucci, Public Administration Review, Vol. 71 Issue 2
March/April 2011

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From the abstract:
Public sector union membership is thriving compared to the private sector. Moreover, public employee unions play a significant role in policy making at every level of government. Yet research on public sector labor relations is sporadic and uneven, perhaps negligible. Why so? This article surveys the literature on public sector unionism and seeks to answer that question. Its conclusion points to a course of action for renewing interest in this seminal field among public administration, management, and policy scholars.

Research Brief: Black Workers and the Public Sector

Source: Steven Pitts, UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, Research Brief, April 5, 2011

Since January 2009, state and local governments have laid off 429,000 public workers. As governments contemplate additional layoffs, it is important to note that few commentators have examined the racial implications of this reduction in government employment. This is an important question to address because often policy prescriptions that are race-neutral on the surface can have decidedly racial impacts. This research brief explores the issue by analyzing the nature of Black employment in the public sector.

The results of this study are striking:
• The public sector is the single most important source of employment for African Americans.
• During 2008-2010, 21.2 percent of all Black workers were public employees, compared with 16.3 percent of non-Black workers. Both before and after the onset of the Great Recession, African Americans were 30 percent more likely than other workers to be employed in the public sector.
• The public sector is also a critical source of decent-paying jobs for Black Americans. For both men and women, the median wage earned by Black employees is significantly higher in the public sector than in other industries.
• Prior to the recession, the wage differential between Black and white workers was less in the public sector than in the overall economy
Monthly Black Workers Report
The End of the Recession? How Blacks Might Fare in the Jobless Recovery

Finances of Selected State and Local Government Employee Retirement Systems: 4th Quarter 2010

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, G10-QRET4, March 2011

From the press release:
This quarterly survey provides national summary data on the revenues, expenditures and composition of assets of the 100 largest state and local public employee retirement systems in the United States. These 100 systems comprise 89.4 percent of financial activity among such entities, based on the 2007 Census of Governments. This survey presents the most current data about investment decisions by state and local public employee retirement systems, which are among the largest types of institutional investors in the U.S. financial markets. These data tables are published three months after each calendar quarter and show national financial transactions and trends for the past five years.

Addressing the Media Misperceptions About Municipal Retirement

Source: Ronald D. Picur and Lance J. Weiss, Government Finance Review, Vol. 27 no. 1, February 2011
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The media reports urgently warning that the public pension system is perched on the brink of disaster are based on questionable research that has created misconceptions about the health and future of the public-sector pension system.

Setting the Record Straight About Public Pensions

Source: Leigh Snell, Government Finance Review, Vol. 27 no. 1, February 2011

Is there really a public pension crisis? And what can – and should – be done to address legitimate concerns about the sustainability of the pension benefits of public workers? Before any productive discussion can occur, it is necessary to agree on some basic facts, distinguish reality from hyperbole, and set the record straight.

Unions Rights Affect Black Workers More Than Others

Source: Michel Martin, NPR, Tell Me More, March 10, 2011

After weeks of protests and wrangling, the Wisconsin State Senate passed a bill that strips public employees of collective bargaining rights. As a growing number of states consider similar measures, public sector workers face a daunting future. A recent study shows that African Americans are far more likely to work for the government than any other ethnic group. The public sector is also the leading employer of black men and the second leading employer of black women. Host Michel Martin discusses the implications of budget cuts for minority workers with Steven Pitts, a labor policy specialist with the University of California, Berkeley and a co-author of that study.
See also:
Labor Center Black Worker Project

State Budget Deficits Are Not an Employee Compensation Problem

Source: David Madland, Nick Bunker, Center for American Progress, Issue Brief, March 2011

From the summary:
Several previous studies find that public-sector employees make less than workers in comparable positions in the private sector. Public employees do have better health care and pensions–often needed to attract qualified employees to state government jobs such as police and firefighting. Even still, public-sector wages are significantly lower than those in the private sector, so total employee compensation is lower than in the private sector.

In addition, according to our analysis of state government expenditures, total state employee compensation, including wages and benefits, has not increased as a share of total state budget expenditures over the past 20 years. In fact, it has slightly decreased (see chart).