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January 6, 2010 / jimnv

New Public Employee Salary Study

The Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce has released a study of public employee salaries in Nevada. The webpage regarding their study is here.

An article by Mark Robison of the  Reno Gazette Journal offers some details. It is called: “Report: Nevada public employees earn 6th highest pay in nation but has fewest public employees per 1,000 citizens of any state“, January 6, 2010.

Researchers looked at 2008 data for 29 broad job classifications and drew conclusions from that. The study states the average state employee within those classifications makes $55,300 annually which is 107 percent of the national average. Local employees make 131 percent of average and firefighters 155 percent. Teachers were 95 percent.

For a PDF version of the study, click here.

For a summary of a simple “study” I made of ALL state employee salaries for 2007:  State Employee Pay for 2007 – less than you think! Back then, about 58 percent of state employees were paid less than $50,000 a year (gross pay).  I don’t think that has changed no matter what the study says.

Since that time, state employees are paid 4.6 percent less and there are about 10 percent fewer positions.


Here is part of the study discussing its limitations:


As with any analysis, there are important limitations that must be considered when drawing conclusion from the data utilized. Primary among these are comparability and completeness issues. Not all states classify all employees similarly. For example, teachers are classified as “local” employees while, in Nevada, they are more commonly considered “state” employees. Differing classifications of employees could impact the comparability of estimated salaries as well as relative employment levels. Along these same lines, the relative complexity of certain job functions in Nevada compared to other states may also factor into relative compensation levels. Certain state or local governmental functions may require personnel with higher qualifications and/or more experience than are required in other states, thereby increasing the average salaries attributable to that function. Finally, whether higher-level positions are brought in-house rather than out-sourced to contractors may also impact average salary payments reported from state to state.

Additionally, reported data are not always complete. The U.S. Census Bureau applies appropriate statistical methods to impute for missing data; however, these limitations warrant additional caution particularly when undertaking segmented analyses.

It is also important to note that this analysis does not consider the differential impacts of employee benefit levels. This is a key factor that may also impact wage and salary levels for otherwise similarly-situated employees.


Leave a Comment
  1. F. Lewis / Jan 7 2010 1:28 pm

    Look at by state. This shows how much more expensive it is to live in the top ten states listed in the LV C of C brief and much cheaper in the lowest ten states. I’m sure the ignoring of how the cost of living varies from state to state and the resulting impact on all salaries was merely a missed opportunity on the part of the LV C of C and not done to mislead people.

    • jimnv / Jan 7 2010 1:51 pm

      You are right. Many factors go into what is a reasonable wage and the cost of living is one. The Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce likes to pick and choose data to show public employees in a bad light.
      Though their study looks good it has limited validity but most don’t know that or even want to know.

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