USA Today Misrepresents Public Worker Wages

In an email, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR), asks the question: why does USA Today Hate public workers? It's a good question.

On today's front page (3/1/11), USA Today alleges that public workers in Wisconsin earn more than private sector employees -- a finding at odds with much of the research on public/private compensation.

This seems to be a common misconception and a standard talking point of Republicans, Tea Partiers, and some news outlets like USA Today.

According to the Economic Policy Institute  Wisconsin public employees

earn 4.8% less in total compensation per hour than comparable full-time employees in Wisconsin's private sector.

FAIR's email goes on to state

other research on private/public compensation reaches similar conclusions (Center for Economic and Policy Research, 5/10/10). Other news papers, like the New York Times (2/26/11), offers a range of studies, many of which support the conclusion that public workers earn less than their private-sector counterparts.

Stories like the one in USA Today has little to do with accurate, honest reporting, but does "offer a valuable boost to Republican governors like Wisconsin's Scott Walker.

Contact USA Today and let them know it is meaningless to compare compensation without adjusting for the type of work performed, as well as for factors like education and experience.

USA Today Standards Editor Brent Jones 1-800-872-7073 accuracy@usatoday.com