Total pay still lags

June 16, 2009 

The N&O's lead story on June 14 ("Piled-up perks carry hidden costs") is an example of journalism that tries to lend clarity to an issue, but doesn't. The article states early that "While state employees and teachers annually do battle with lawmakers over pay raises and health benefits, other policies often passed to compensate for meager or no raises can quietly add tens of millions of dollars to the state's payroll in future years." The rest of the article is devoted to enumerating these generous benefits.

You offer no proof, however, that state employees' total pay (benefits plus salary) generally exceeds the compensation needed to retain enough employees to provide the services legislators believe North Carolinians demand. Indeed, the opposite may be true: a page at N.C. State's Web site shows, for example, that NCSU faculty rank below 13 of 16 peer institutions in average total compensation (benefits plus salary).

Cutting benefits means potentially uncompetitive total pay for state employees and unfilled positions or else cutting the quality of state-provided services.

Karlyn Mitchell

Associate Professor, Finance

N.C. State University

Raleigh

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