Public Sector Unions and the Rising Costs of Employee Compensation

29 Pages Posted: 25 Apr 2013

Date Written: February 15, 2010


This article examines the compensation of state and local workers, who account for 20 million of the 23 million civilian government workers in the United States. State and local workers include teachers, college instructors, police officers, health care administrators, and many other occupational groups.

Examining state and local compensation is important because it represents a major portion of the overall U.S. economy. In 2008, the total cost of wages and benefits for state and local workers was $1.1 trillion, which was half of the $2.2 trillion in total spending by state and local governments. Compensation costs are expected to rise rapidly in coming years due to growing pension and health care costs.

Keywords: public sector employment, public sector compensation, teacher unions, wages, government pensions, benefits

JEL Classification: J50, J51, J58, H50

Suggested Citation

Edwards, Chris, Public Sector Unions and the Rising Costs of Employee Compensation (February 15, 2010). Cato Journal, Vol. 30, No. 1, 2010, Available at SSRN:

Chris Edwards (Contact Author)

Cato Institute ( email )

1000 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001-5403
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics