Comments on 'comparing compensation: state-local versus private sector workers,' center for state and local government excellence

I and my co-author, Jason Richwine of the Heritage Foundation, entered the discussion on public sector compensation largely in response to a paper published by the Center for State and Local Government Excellence (CSLGE) in April 2010 titled “Out of Balance? Comparing Public and Private Sector Compensation Over 20 Years.” This paper, authored by Keith Bender and John Heywood, concluded that, on average, state and local government employees received total wages and benefits around 7 percent lower than private sector workers with similar education, experience and other attributes. Jason and I argued that this was likely an underestimate, as the study understated the value of public sector defined benefit pensions, omitted the value of retiree health coverage that is predominant in the public sector, and excluded the value of public employees’ greater job security. Our critique was extended to a series of additional papers published by the Economic Policy Institute and authored by Rutgers University Professor Jeffrey Keefe.

Andrew Biggs is a resident scholar at AEI.

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About the Author

 

Andrew G.
Biggs
  • Andrew G. Biggs is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he studies Social Security reform, state and local government pensions, and public sector pay and benefits.

    Before joining AEI, Biggs was the principal deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA), where he oversaw SSA’s policy research efforts. In 2005, as an associate director of the White House National Economic Council, he worked on Social Security reform. In 2001, he joined the staff of the President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security. Biggs has been interviewed on radio and television as an expert on retirement issues and on public vs. private sector compensation. He has published widely in academic publications as well as in daily newspapers such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. He has also testified before Congress on numerous occasions. In 2013, the Society of Actuaries appointed Biggs co-vice chair of a blue ribbon panel tasked with analyzing the causes of underfunding in public pension plans and how governments can securely fund plans in the future.

    Biggs holds a bachelor’s degree from Queen's University Belfast in Northern Ireland, master’s degrees from Cambridge University and the University of London, and a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics.

  • Phone: 202-862-5841
    Email: andrew.biggs@aei.org
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Kelly Funderburk
    Phone: 202-862-5920
    Email: kelly.funderburk@aei.org

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