Quick Hit Josh Kalven Friday June 4th, 2010, 9:00am

Fighting The Scourge Of State-Paid Barbers!

Earlier this week, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Kevin McDermott devoted a blog post to the latest Illinois Policy Institute memo on disparities between private sector and public sector pay.  He specifically zeroed in on the comparison of prison barbers (who make an average salary of $66,000) with normal barbers (who make around $27,000, on average) and even quoted the Institute's executive vice-president suggesting ways to bring the state's barber costs down.

McDermott described the Institute as "testing the theory that the government is more wasteful (or, put another way, more generous) than private businesses."  But he failed to note -- in clear, obvious language -- that the conservative think tank's method was wholly unscientific.  Indeed, in our response to their report, we just as easily found occupations in which the state pays less than the private sector. 

Any discussion of this nuanced issued should note the comprehensive and rigorous study recently conducted at the University of Wisconsin which found that local and state employees often make 15 percent less than their private sector counterparts.  

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