Fact Sheet | Unions and Labor Standards

Missouri public-sector workers are undercompensated compared to private-sector counterparts

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Briefing Paper: Are Missouri public employees overcompensated?

Full-time state and local government employees in Missouri are undercompensated by 15.7%, when compared to otherwise similar private-sector workers. [1] A rigorous analysis using a comprehensive monthly database[2] that includes the necessary variables—education, experience, hours of work, organizational size, gender, race, ethnicity, citizenship, and disability—provides the most accurate comparison of public‐ and private‐sector compensation in Missouri.

The facts:

  • On an annual basis, full-time state and local workers and school employees are undercompensated by 15.7% in Missouri, in comparison to otherwise similar private-sector workers. When comparisons are made for differences in annual hours worked, an almost identical gap of 15.6% remains.
  • Missouri public-sector workers are more highly educated than private-sector workers; 53% of full-time Missouri public-sector workers hold at least a four-year college degree, compared to 27% of the state’s full-time private-sector workers.
  • Missouri state and local governments and school districts pay college-educated workers on average 37% less than do private employers.
  • College-educated public-sector workers in Missouri earn considerably less than private-sector employees. On the other hand, the roughly 3% of Missouri’s public-sector workers without high school diplomas tend to earn more than their peers in the private sector because the public sector sets a floor on earnings.

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[1] See the 2011 EPI Briefing Paper, Are Missouri Public Employees Overcompensated? by Labor and Employment Relations Professor Jeffrey Keefe, Rutgers University. The study uses data collected primarily from the National Compensation Survey, and in accordance with standard survey practice, focuses on year‐round, full‐time public‐ and private‐sector employees.

[2] U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics.


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