Sometimes the OC Register’s Watchdog reporter Teri Sforza get’s it right. But when it comes to analyzing government statistics I think she has allowed the Register Editorial Board’s prism of anti-government employee rhetoric to blind her. Such is the case with Sforza’s piece Tuesday titled Public pay rises despite recession. Teri writes:
As the Bell scandal and the debate over government transparency rages, we ask you to consider these revealing numbers from our friends at the U.S. Census Bureau:
In the five years between 2002 and 2007, the number of full-time equivalent employees in all state and local governments in California grew just three percent, while the cost of paying those folks grew 26 percent.
Sforza doesn’t cite where she actually came up with the numbers she reported, but here is what I found on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website here. Nationally between 1st Qtr. 2002 and 1st Qtr. 2007 wages and salaries for all industry groups rose 14.99%. Taken separately, wages and salaries for state and local government workers rose 15.14%. That is a difference of 0.15%.
In examining the more narrow time period of 4th Qtr. 2007 to 4th Qtr. 2009 wages and salaries for all industry groupsÂ increased by 4.21% and for state and local government workers by 5.14%. This is a difference of only 0.93%.
Teri only gave you aÂ percentage increase in overall costsÂ for state and local workers and offered no comparison to overall wage and salary increases. The simple fact is that wage and salary increases for state and local workers are in line with the comparable increases that all workers have received. It really is amazing what leaving out a little information does to distort ones perception of reality.