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  • Commentary posted June 15, 2012 by Jason Richwine, Ph.D., Andrew G. Biggs, Ph.D. Only the Public Sector Is Doing Fine

    President Obama’s puzzling claim that “the private sector is doing fine” has been met with much skepticism, and even ridicule. To many observers, it is self-evidently wrong. While many in the media are content to label the incident a “gaffe” and move on, some of the president’s supporters insist that he actually voiced a fundamental truth, albeit inelegantly. Are they…

  • Commentary posted June 2, 2012 by Jason Richwine, Ph.D., Andrew G. Biggs, Ph.D. Overpaid Public Workers: Actually, We're Moving Toward Consensus

    Many public workers are overpaid relative to their private sector counterparts, especially in large, unionized states such as Wisconsin, Ohio and California. This may sound like a controversial claim, but it shouldn't. The methodology we've used to compare compensation in the public and private sectors has broad support, from academic economists to nonpartisan…

  • Testimony posted March 29, 2012 by Jason Richwine, Ph.D., Andrew G. Biggs, Ph.D. Contractors: How Much Are They Costing the Government?

    Testimony before Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight, United States Senate Chairwoman McCaskill, Ranking Member Portman, and Members of the Committee: Thank you for the opportunity to submit written testimony regarding the compensation of federal employees and contractors.…

  • Backgrounder posted February 15, 2012 by Jason Richwine, Ph.D., James Sherk, Andrew G. Biggs, Ph.D. Federal Pay is Out of Line with Private Sector Pay: CBO Supports Heritage, AEI Conclusions

    Abstract: A January 2012 report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) shows that federal government employees receive substantially higher compensation than similarly skilled workers in the private sector. The report’s methodology and conclusions are broadly similar to previous studies from both The Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute. This…

  • Commentary posted January 11, 2012 by Jason Richwine, Ph.D., Andrew G. Biggs, Ph.D. Are Teachers Overpaid? A Response to Critics

    It is a view as ubiquitous as it is simplistic: To improve public education, pay teachers more—a lot more. Union officials, education reformers, scholars, laypeople, and politicians of all stripes endorse this principle in one form or another. However, as we determined in a study released Nov. 1, 2011, by the Heritage Foundation, “Assessing the Compensation of…

  • Backgrounder posted January 10, 2012 by Jason Richwine, Ph.D., Andrew G. Biggs, Ph.D. Critical Issues in Assessing Teacher Compensation

    Abstract: A November 2011 Heritage Foundation report—“Assessing the Compensation of Public-School Teachers”—presented data on teacher salaries and benefits in order to inform debates about teacher compensation reform. The report concluded that public-school teacher compensation is far ahead of what comparable private-sector workers enjoy, and that recruiting more…

  • Commentary posted November 15, 2011 by Lindsey Burke, Andrew G. Biggs, Ph.D., Jason Richwine, Ph.D. What Happened to Data-Driven Education Reform?

    "The path to real reform begins with the truth," stated Education Secretary Arne Duncan in 2009 during an education forum with the Data Quality Campaign. Sec. Duncan, who argues that policymakers should use "data to drive reform," strongly believes that education policy should be "framed by evidence." We agree. So why is the secretary…

  • Commentary posted November 8, 2011 by Jason Richwine, Ph.D., Andrew G. Biggs, Ph.D. Public School Teachers Aren't Underpaid

    A common story line in American education policy is that public school teachers are underpaid—"desperately underpaid," according to Education Secretary Arne Duncan in a recent speech. As former first lady Laura Bush put it: "Salaries are too low. We all know that. We need to figure out a way to pay teachers more." Good teachers are crucial to a strong…

  • Center for Data Analysis Report posted November 1, 2011 by Jason Richwine, Ph.D., Andrew G. Biggs, Ph.D. Assessing the Compensation of Public-School Teachers

    Executive Summary The teaching profession is crucial to America’s society and economy, but public-school teachers should receive compensation that is neither higher nor lower than market rates. Do teachers currently receive the proper level of compensation? Standard analytical approaches to this question compare teacher salaries to the salaries of similarly educated…

  • Backgrounder posted March 31, 2011 by Andrew G. Biggs, Ph.D., Jason Richwine, Ph.D. Public-Sector Compensation: Correcting the Economic Policy Institute, Again

    Abstract: Previous public–private pay comparisons at the state and local levels, including numerous reports published by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), significantly undercount public-sector pension benefits, omit retiree health coverage, and ignore job security. Using California as an example, an analysis by economists Andrew Biggs and Jason Richwine showed that…

  • Center for Data Analysis Report posted March 17, 2011 by Jason Richwine, Ph.D., Andrew G. Biggs, Ph.D. Are California Public Employees Overpaid?

    Abstract: While it is clear that federal workers’ wages and benefits are above market levels, it is less clear whether state and local employees are similarly overpaid. In the past year, several organizations have published studies arguing that state and local workers are underpaid. But these studies undercount or omit important benefits that public workers enjoy,…

  • Commentary posted March 9, 2011 by Jason Richwine, Ph.D., Andrew G. Biggs, Ph.D. Are They Paid Too Much?

    Amid the rage over Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s proposals to shrink government worker compensation, one question predominates: Are these workers overpaid? If so, it makes sense for them to accept less, rather than force taxpayers to give up more. In recent weeks, left-leaning think tanks have tried to portray public employees, including government workers, as…

  • Commentary posted February 23, 2011 by Jason Richwine, Ph.D., Andrew G. Biggs, Ph.D. The Public Worker Gravy Train

    Leaders across the country are proposing restrictions on public employees' pay and benefits in order to put their budgets on a more sustainable path. The political left's counterattack is that government workers aren't overpaid compared to those in the private economy. Who's right? Consider a study released last October by the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics…

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