Average Total Compensation for Anaheim City Worker is ALSO $175,000 Per Year

Yes, this is an incredible statistic. But only one assumption is necessary to generate this shocking result – just assume that pension funds will only earn 4.5% per year instead of 7.5% per year. If you wish to cling to the utterly absurd belief that over the long-term, decade after decade, pension funds can achieve an average annual return of 7.5%, then Anaheim’s city workers only earn an average total compensation of $146,551 per year. A pittance, right?

This is still a shocking statistic. But this lower average, $146,551 per year, is an unvarnished fact, based on 2011 payroll records that were provided to researchers at the California Public Policy Center by Anaheim’s payroll department. Here is the recent study by the CPPC, “Anaheim California – City Employee Compensation Analysis,” and here is the actual spreadsheet provided by the city “Anaheim_Total_Employee_Cost_2011.xlxs.” Anyone who thinks the data being presented here is distorted in any way is invited to download the raw data and see for themselves.

Before delving further into details of pay and benefits for Anaheim’s city workers, it is important to emphasize that Anaheim is not unique. Anaheim is typical. Another recent CPPC study examined 2011 payroll data for the city of San Jose, and determined their workforce enjoyed average total compensation (not adjusted upwards to account for adequate pension contributions) in 2011 of $149,907. Here is that recent study, “San Jose California – City Employee Compensation Analysis,” and here is the actual payroll spreadsheet provided by the city “San_Jose_Total_Employee_Cost_2011.xlxs.” Over the past 10-20 years, California’s unionized city and county employees have worked hard to ensure that every increase to pay or benefits granted by any jurisdiction, anywhere, was immediately matched through collective bargaining everywhere else across the state. With rare exceptions, per job classification, there is pay and benefits parity among public employees across California.

For years, these pay and benefit increases were negotiated behind closed doors, between local politicians and the union bosses who elected them. Public sector unions are subject to only minimal public oversight, making their financial power difficult to ascertain, but in California, they are estimated to collect at least $750 million per year in dues, and they probably spend about one-third of that on direct political activity (ref. “Understanding the Financial Disclosure Requirements of Public Sector Unions,” and “Public Sector Unions and Political Spending.” Few corporations are willing to stand up to these unions, and why should they? The public sector union agenda of higher taxes and bigger government doesn’t hurt big corporations. They benefit when the barriers to competition are raised; it drives smaller emerging companies out of business. And financial entities benefit directly from the public sector union agenda of bigger government because expensive and inefficient government causes budget deficits, requiring issuance of debt. Generous pension plans for government workers results in hundreds of billions of taxpayer’s money flowing annually into pension funds – public employee pension funding is the biggest source of new Wall Street investment capital on earth. When public employees urge voters to “blame Wall Street,” they need to look in the mirror. They are Wall Street’s privileged beneficiaries and willing partners. And taxpayers cover the difference.

Returning to Anaheim, and San Jose, and our assertion that in reality their city workers don’t average around $150,000 per year in average total compensation, but rather $175,000 per year, this is because of one simple fact that journalists, politicians, and voters are finally realizing: Pension fund solvency is extremely sensitive to the annual rate of return that pension funds can earn. As the CPPC proves in their study “A Pension Analysis Tool for Everyone,” and as anyone with an intermediate understanding of spreadsheets can calculate for themselves by downloading the CPPC’s “Pension_Analysis_Model.xlxs,” for every 1.0% a pension fund’s long-term rate of return drops, the annual contribution to the pension fund must go up by at least 10% of pension eligible pay. Additional explanatory material, along with the many reasons that rates of return cannot return to the levels sustained during the 20-30 year debt binge that ended in 2008 can be found in the CPPC study “Why Lower Rates of Return Will Destroy Pension Funds.”

Public sector workers who consider themselves to be threatened members of the “middle class” are invited to verify any of the facts presented here, and once they are satisfied as to their veracity, explain why earning a compensation package averaging $175,000 per year is “middle class.” Here are two charts extracted from the more in-depth CPPC study. The first one, Table #4, shows by job classification and compensation categories, Anaheim’s average city employee compensation. The second one, Table #5, also broken out by compensation category, shows the average household income for those private sector taxpayers who live in Anaheim:

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As can be seen, the average employee working for the city of Anaheim enjoys employer pay and benefits that are at least twice that of the people they serve. This is financially unsustainable and profoundly inequitable. Remedying this will require significant reductions to the pay and benefits granted to public employees. But only this painful adjustment will salvage our civic finances and restore faith in government institutions. It is an utterly bipartisan imperative.

6 replies
  1. Tough Love says:

    Great presentation of the untenable situation WE are in.

    I say WE, because if the Public Sector workers think Taxpayers are going to continue paying for this, they are in or a rude and unpleasant awakening.

    DEAR PUBLIC SECTOR WORKERS, what’s better for you in the long run:

    (a) A REAL guarantee of a reasonable pension likely somewhere between 50% and 75% of today’s promises … where you can sleep at night and plan your future knowing those funds will be there for you when you retire, or
    (b) a VERY shaky promise of today’s pension promises, with the intelligent among you knowing that while some will pay 100% of those promises, a good percentage will ultimately only be able to pay 75%, 50%, 25%, or perhaps even 0% …. but with you never really knowing WHICH category your Plan will fall into.

  2. Tough Love says:

    Actually, A Much BETTER question is …

    Why does anyone (citizen or Business) that pays taxes, except the welfare recipients (who get services but DON”T pay taxes) and Public Sector workers (riding this gravy train) stay ?

  3. Aaron the replicant watchdog says:

    These statistics are ridiculous. I’m a utility lineman for the city and most of us average around 80k a year if we work overtime that’s extra but that saves the city from hiring more people. Btw all these taxes payers forget that city and county workers pay taxes as well and as we are w2 we pay a lot of taxes not like most republicans out there making a 100k plus and paying a measly 5k in taxes because they don’t report all there earnings. Btw my uncle just retired after. 22 years as a utility worker and he gets 43k a year on his pension. Does that seem extravagant after working a dangerous job and putting in a percent of his paycheck every month for 22 years.

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