SEIU Nevada: When being in the top 1% still isn’t enough

Executive Summary

The average wage for Clark County local government workers is richer than what their peers in 99 percent of counties nationwide receive, according to an NPRI analysis of the most current wage data available from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In the 2017 third quarter, local government workers in Clark County received an average weekly wage of $1,155 — which ranked 55th out of the 2,867 counties surveyed nationwide, and was about 22 percent higher than the $943 received by local government workers nationally.

When the average wages are adjusted to reflect the different price levels faced by the average consumer in each state, as calculated by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis’ Regional Price Parities 2015 report, Clark County jumps to number 25 on the list — placing its employees firmly within the top 1 percent of counties with the highest paid local government workers nationwide.

Cost borne by taxpayers who, on average, earn much less themselves

“The findings are significant, given that much of the cost for this excess is borne by Nevada residents who, on average, earn much less themselves,” explained Nevada Policy Research Institute Director of Transparency Research Robert Fellner.

“Clark County local government workers are among some of the best paid in the nation, but this excess is being funded by a private sector that earns significantly less than the national average,” explained Fellner.

While the $1,155 average weekly wage received by Clark County local government workers was 22 percent above the national average, the $866 earned by private-sector workers was 15 percent less than the national average of $1,013.

But Clark County government workers don’t just fare well in comparisons of wages, they also receive vastly richer non-wage benefits than the average private-sector worker.

The NPRI analysis found that Clark County government workers receive nearly twice as many paid holiday and sick days, significantly greater job security and a retirement plan that costs nearly 6 times more than what the average private-sector worker receives.

Despite receiving wages that already place them in the top 1 percent of counties nationwide, the SEIU of Nevada recently rejected Clark County’s offer of a 2 percent pay increase, and is instead demanding a 3.25 percent raise instead.

The move shows why collective bargaining in the public sector was historically opposed by so many, including some of the labor movement’s greatest champions like former President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

“As the SEIU of Nevada has made clear, unions in the public sector are not about eliminating an imbalance that results in below-market wages.  Instead, the incentives are such that both government unions and campaigning lawmakers profit from inflated public pay and the increased burden that imposes on taxpayers.

“That is precisely why extending collective bargaining to the public sector was opposed by so many across the ideological spectrum, for so long. ”

Click here to see the full study.

Robert Fellner

Robert Fellner

Policy Director

Robert Fellner joined the Nevada Policy in December 2013 and currently serves as Policy Director. Robert has written extensively on the issue of transparency in government. He has also developed and directed Nevada Policy’s public-interest litigation strategy, which led to two landmark victories before the Nevada Supreme Court. The first resulted in a decision that expanded the public’s right to access government records, while the second led to expanded taxpayer standing for constitutional challenges in Nevada.

An expert on government compensation and its impact on taxes, Robert has authored multiple studies on public pay and pensions. He has been published in Business Insider,, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Orange County Register,, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Examiner, and elsewhere.

Robert has lived in Las Vegas since 2005 when he moved to Nevada to become a professional poker player. Robert has had a remarkably successfully poker career including two top 10 World Series of Poker finishes and being ranked #1 in the world at 10/20 Pot-Limit Omaha cash games.

Additionally, his economic analysis on the minimum wage won first place in a 2011 George Mason University essay contest. He also independently organized a successful grassroots media and fundraising effort for a 2012 presidential candidate, before joining the campaign in an official capacity.