The Silver State’s golden compensation packages

Andy Matthews

Every week, NPRI President Andy Matthews writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.

The Silver State’s golden compensation packages

Whether you’re a current government employee or a retired one, Nevada is the place to be.

That’s because Nevada public employees take a lot from taxpayers — both when they’re working and after they retire.

A quick glance at illustrates this point when it comes to individual employees. But now, new data provides the big-picture perspective on what Nevada is paying for both current and retired public workers.

Last month, Nevada Journal reported on new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that shows Nevada’s public-school employees are faring much better financially, compared to their peers in other states, than are Nevadans working in the private sector. Additionally, the American Enterprise Institute just released a study showing that the Silver State has the highest public retiree pension benefits in the country.

Let’s start with Nevada’s education sector. In 2012 — the latest year for which data is available — the average annual income for someone working in Nevada’s K-12 public-school sector was 103.4 percent of the average wage for public-school workers nationally. Meanwhile, Nevadans working in the private sector took in only 86.2 percent of what their counterparts across the nation did.

That 17.2-point gap is the fourth-highest differential in the country.

When compared to their counterparts in neighboring states, Nevada’s public-school employees are doing even better. In Arizona, for example, those working in the private sector brought home 91.9 percent of the national average, while education employees made 83.6 percent of the national average for their sector.

The same is true in California, Idaho and Utah, where those in the private sector fared better compared to their peers than those in the public-school sector.

In retirement, Nevada’s public-sector workers are also living the high life. Andrew Biggs, former principal deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration and the speaker at NPRI’s November 2011 policy luncheon, authored a study this month that shows Nevada offers the most generous retirement benefits in the entire nation.

On average, Nevada retirees bring in more than $64,000 each year. That means the average public retiree is poised to take home $1.33 million over the course of retirement, not including the value of his or her health care benefits.

Our retirees make so much that their annual income exceeds that of 87 percent of Nevadans who are currently working full-time. The only states for which that percentage is higher are Oregon, North Carolina and West Virginia.

And Biggs’ study doesn’t factor in public-safety retirees, who tend to retire earlier and receive higher pensions than other government workers.

Public-employee unions and supporters would have you believe salaries and pensions are modest. But a quick look at the data shows otherwise.

You know who shouldn’t be modest? The leader in NPRI’s bracket challenge: Joy Juedes.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Andy Matthews
NPRI President

Remember, if you'd like to receive the latest from NPRI, sign-up for our emails here.