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[IWS] CRS: SELECTED CHARACTERISTICS OF PRIVATE AND PUBLIC SECTOR WORKERS [21 March 2014]

IWS Documented News Service

_______________________________

Institute for Workplace Studies----------------- Professor Samuel B. Bacharach

School of Industrial & Labor Relations-------- Director, Institute for Workplace Studies

Cornell University

16 East 34th Street, 4th floor---------------------- Stuart Basefsky

New York, NY 10016 -------------------------------Director, IWS News Bureau

________________________________________________________________________

 

Congressional Research Service (CRS)

 

Selected Characteristics of Private and Public Sector Workers

Gerald Mayer,  Analyst in Labor Policy

March 21, 2014

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R41897.pdf

[full-text, 36 pages]

 

 

Summary

An issue for Congress and state and local governments is whether the pay and benefits of public

workers are comparable to those of workers in the private sector. In addition, among the ways to

reduce budget deficits, policy makers are considering the pay and benefits of public sector

employees.

 

The number of people employed in both the private and public sectors has increased steadily as

the U.S. economy has grown. However, after increasing to 19.2% of total employment in 1975,

the percentage of all jobs that are in the public sector fell to 15.7% in 1999. In 2013, public sector

jobs accounted for 16.0% of total employment.

 

The recession that officially began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009 affected

employment in both the private and public sectors. From 2007 to 2010, the number of jobs in the

private sector fell by an estimated 7.9 million, while the number of jobs in the public sector

increased by almost 272,000. Conversely, from 2010 to 2013, private sector employment grew by

approximately 6.7 million jobs, while public sector employment fell by about 626,000 jobs.

Reflecting the effects of the 2007-2009 recession on the budgets of state and local governments,

from 2010 to 2013, public sector employment as a share of total employment fell from 17.3% to

16.0%.

 

Among all full-time and part-time workers ages 16 and over, the number of workers covered by a

collective bargaining agreement has fallen in both the private and public sectors. The decline has

been greater in the private sector. In 2009, for the first time, a majority of workers who were

covered by a collective bargaining agreement were employed in the public sector (8.7 million

workers in the public sector, compared to 8.2 million private sector workers). By 2013, the

situation had reversed; a slight majority of workers covered by a collective bargaining agreement

were employed in the private sector (8.1 million private sector workers, compared to 7.9 million

public sector workers). In the federal government, except for the Postal Service and some smaller

agencies, employees do not bargain over wages.

 

Among workers ages 18 to 64 who work full-time, differences in characteristics that may affect

the relative pay and benefits of private and public sector workers include the following:

 

Age. Reflecting the aging of the U.S. labor force, workers in both the private and

public sectors have become older. Nevertheless, employees in the public sector

are older than private sector workers. In 2013, 51.7% of public sector workers

were between the ages of 45 and 64, compared to 42.4% of full-time private

sector workers. Federal workers are older than employees of state and local

governments. In 2013, 56.7% of federal workers were between the ages of 45 and

64, compared to 49.7% of state employees and 52.1% of employees of local

governments. Workers who have more years of work experience generally earn

more than workers with less experience.

 

Gender. Reflecting the increased participation of women in the labor force, the

share of jobs held by women has increased in both the private and public sectors.

In 2013, women held almost three-fifths (57.7%) of full-time jobs in state and

local governments. By contrast, women held approximately two-fifths of full-time jobs

in the federal government and in the privated sector (42.2% and 41.7%, respectively).

 

Education. On average, public sector employees have more years of education

than private sector workers. In 2013, 53.6% of workers in the public sector had a

bachelor’s, advanced, or professional degree, compared to 34.9% of private

sector workers. Generally, workers with more years of education earn more than

workers with less years of education.

 

Occupation. A larger share of public sector than private sector workers are

employed in “management, professional, and related occupations.” In 2013,

56.2% of public sector workers and 37.8% of private sector workers were

employed in these occupations. In part, more public sector workers were

employed in these occupations because 25.7% of all public sector workers were

employed in “education, training, and library” occupations, compared to 2.3% of

all private sector workers. Workers in management and professional occupations

generally earn more than workers in other occupations. However, comparisons of

the compensation of private and public sector workers that use broad

occupational categories may miss differences between detailed occupations.

Many detailed occupations are concentrated in either the private or public

sectors. Nevertheless, many detailed occupations may require similar skills.

 

Union coverage. Although the number of workers covered by a collective

bargaining agreement is greater in the private sector than in the public sector, the

percentage of workers covered by a collective bargaining agreement is greater in

the public sector than in the private sector.

 

Metropolitan area. Private sector workers are more likely than federal workers to

live in major metropolitan areas (i.e., areas with 5 million or more people)

 

Contents

Trends in Private and Public Sector Employment ........................................................................... 2

The Number and Percent of Workers Covered by a Collective Bargaining Agreement ............ 5

Individual, Occupational, and Employer Characteristics of Private and Public Sector  Workers ..................... 7

Age ............................................................................................................................................ 8

Gender ....................................................................................................................................... 9

Education ................................................................................................................................. 11

Occupation ............................................................................................................................... 14

Major Occupations ............................................................................................................ 14

Union Coverage by Major Occupation ............................................................................. 15

Detailed Occupations ........................................................................................................ 17

Metropolitan Area .................................................................................................................... 17

 

Figures

Figure 1. Private and Public Sector Employment, 1955 to 2013 ..................................................... 2

Figure 2. Public Sector Employment as a Share of Total Employment, 1955 to 2013 .................... 3

Figure 3. Public Sector Employment, by Level of Government, 1955 to 2013 ............................... 4

Figure 4. Public Sector Employment, by Level of Government, as a Share of Total Employment, 1955 to 2013 ................................................................................................. 4

Figure 5. Percent of Workers Covered by a Collective Bargaining Agreement, 1983-2013 ........... 6

Figure 6. Percent of Full-Time Workers Who Are Between the Ages of 45 and 64, 1976 to 2013 .............................................................................................................................................. 8

Figure 7. Percent of Full-Time Workers Who Are Female, 1976 to 2013 ..................................... 10

Figure 8. Percent of Full-Time Workers with a Bachelor’s Degree, Private and Public Sectors, 1976 to 2013 ................................................................................................................. 12

Figure 9. Percent of Full-Time Workers with an Advanced or Professional Degree, Private and Public Sectors, 1976 to 2013 ................................................................................... 13

Figure 10. Percent of Full-Time Workers with a Bachelor’s, Advanced, or Professional Degree, by Level of Government, 1988 to 2013 ........................................................................ 14

Figure 11. Percent of Full-Time Employees Who Live in Metropolitan Areas With Populations of 1 Million or More or 5 Million or More, 2013 ................................................... 18

 

Tables

Table 1. The Percent of Full-Time Wage and Salary Workers Ages 18 to 64 Employed by Occupation and the Percent of Those Workers Who Are Covered by a Collective Bargaining Agreement, 2013 ............ 16

Table A-1. The Number of Full-Time Wage and Salary Workers Ages 18 to 64 Employed by Occupation and the Number of Workers Covered by a Collective Bargaining Agreement by Occupation, 2013 ........ 20

Table A-2. Wage and Salary Occupations Common to Both the Private and Public Sectors, by Total Number Employed, 2013 .................................. 22

Table A-3. Wage and Salary Occupations More Common in the Private Sector, by Number Employed in the Private Sector, 2013 .............................. 25

Table A-4. Wage and Salary Occupations More Common in the Public Sector, by the Number Employed in the Public Sector, 2013 ...................................... 27

Table A-5. Values for the Education Variable in the Current Population Survey (CPS), 1976 to 2013 ................................................. 30

 

Appendixes

Appendix. Detailed Data and Description of Data Source and Methodology ............................... 19

 

Contacts

Author Contact Information........................................................................................................... 31

 

 

________________________________________________________________________

This information is provided to subscribers, friends, faculty, students and alumni of the School of Industrial & Labor Relations (ILR). It is a service of the Institute for Workplace Studies (IWS) in New York City. Stuart Basefsky is responsible for the selection of the contents which is intended to keep researchers, companies, workers, and governments aware of the latest information related to ILR disciplines as it becomes available for the purposes of research, understanding and debate. The content does not reflect the opinions or positions of Cornell University, the School of Industrial & Labor Relations, or that of Mr. Basefsky and should not be construed as such. The service is unique in that it provides the original source documentation, via links, behind the news and research of the day. Use of the information provided is unrestricted. However, it is requested that users acknowledge that the information was found via the IWS Documented News Service.

 

 




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