BILL CRAWFORD: Most state employees need raise

State employees can’t get a break. Well, most can’t. In 2012, Mississippi had 58,135 state employees earning an average salary of $41,870, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A Pew Charitable Trusts study reported this was significantly higher than the $35,263 average private sector salary in Mississippi. Couple this with the state’s generous retirement plan – few, if any, private sector retirement plans are anywhere near as generous – and you get a glimpse of why many think state employees don’t deserve a break.

But, wait a minute.

There are 31,514 state employees covered by the Mississippi State Personnel Board. The rest counted in the BLS figures are university professors and employees; the governor, lieutenant governor, legislators and their staffs; judges; and members of the National Guard – all not covered by the Board.

The median salary for board covered employees was just $30,046, noticeably below the private sector average.

And, according to the Associated Press, 49 percent of them earned less than $29,000 and 14 percent less than $19,999.

Rep. Johnny Stringer of Montrose said these employees have not received a pay increase in seven years. But, during that time their required contributions to the struggling state retirement system have increased 24 percent and the amount many pay toward their health insurance benefit has more than doubled.

No wonder so many quit.

Daily Journal
3/17/14