I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sweet, Ripe, Low-Hangin' Fruit

I try to avoid the easy takedowns - really, I do - but when Save Jersey goes off on one of his rants, it's hard not to reach up and pick that low-hangin' fruit...

The Associated Press reported this morning that New Jersey education pay raises have fallen to the lowest levels in 30 years -- from 4.3% last year to 2.03% for the new school year.

Remarkable, isn't it?

That means, on average, New Jersey teacher salaries have increased by more than 2% for 30 consecutive years. Can anyone in this blog audience name a private sector industry with a comparable track record of salary increases? Better yet... when was the last time YOU received any kind of pay raise, Save Jerseyans? For most of you, I'm willing to bet someone else was in the White House at the time.
First, Matt, I know you've got that Obama-hatin' jones and all, but he's been president for two years; what does that have to do with the last 30?

Next, since you brought up the longer time-span, let's look at some actual facts:
Meanwhile, a look at data from several decades shows that while average teacher pay is higher than the average of all workers salaries -- everyone from landscapers to surgeons, for example -- it grew at a slower rate than all workers' pay grew.
Teachers average pay rose nearly 150 percent between 1985 and 2008.
The average wage for all workers in the state in 1985 was $21,107, according to state Department of Labor and Workforce Development data. The average pay for all workers in 2008, the last year currently available, was $55,282, an increase of 162 percent.
Overall, the rate of inflation over that same time period was 122 percent for an area including New York, Northern New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
But, but, but... GOLD-PLATED BENEFITS!

As if. 

Matt Rooney is one of the few people in this state who can make Paul Mulshine look sane.

UPDATE: Oh, I'm just an addict for this stuff - someone, please stop me! More from Save Jersey:

The chart above says it all Save Jerseyans. Over the years, the cost you incur to employ a single state or federal worker has continued to increase at rates that leave private sector growth in the dust. With the government constantly pushing down on big and small businesses a like, the possibility for job growth and increases in wealth among private sector works simply cannot keep up. The fact is, this chart should be turned upside down.

It is no secret that government workers take home some great benefits, and there was a time when this was fair. Government jobs did not always pay as much as the private sector, let alone above it, so to entice good workers to serve the public, an incentive must be offered. However, those days are obviously behind us. Federal pay (not including benefits) have grown 33% faster than inflation since the year 2000.
There was a section on the GRE when I took it where they gave you a really bad argument and you had to pick it apart. This post would be the perfect example.

All together:
  1. Your chart doesn't show compensations for private sector employees with similar education/experience.
  2. How much did private job wages grow during the same period?
  3. You admit you need to pay people competitive wages to get them to take public jobs, but you're bothered that you have to pay them competitive wages - OK...
A NJ public employee with a bachelor's degree makes an average yearly salary of $56,641; in the private sector in NJ, that average is $89,041. The gap is wider for workers with a masters: $107,328 for the private worker vs $69,171 for the public worker.

I love this at the end:
The truth is that highly educated individuals know how to act in their own self interest. The smart people of the world can do the math, they know that the public jobs now offer better wages AND cushy retirement packages for themselves and their families in perpetuity. It is not that these jobs require employees of higher intelligence, its that the incentives that exist today are the exact opposite of those that existed a few decades ago. Workers go where the money and perks are, and who could blame them? 
Aside from this being completely contradicted by the facts, I like this notion of toll-takers with PhDs being the problem in our government today.

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