Pay gap for public-sector workers is larger in states with weak or no collective bargaining rights: Differences between local government and private-sector earnings

Geography Collective bargaining
Education U.S. Virginia No. VA Banned Permitted Required
All -14.1% -29.9% -33.4% -22.9% -16.6% -10.5%
All (with add’l demographic controls) -12.2% -26.1% -28.8% -19.8% -15.2% -8.8%
No bachelor’s -0.6% -14.2% -11.0% -13.6% -7.9% 6.8%
Bachelor’s -23.0% -37.0% -39.3% -30.1% -23.7% -20.6%

Notes: Strength of collective bargaining rights is based on rights accorded to miscellaneous local government workers in 2015–2019. “Banned” states are those in which miscellaneous local government workers are barred from engaging in collective bargaining. “Permitted” states are those in which local government entities may engage in collective bargaining with miscellaneous government workers but there is no statewide mandate. “Required” states are those in which local government entities are required to engage in collective bargaining with miscellaneous local government workers. Pay gap is the difference in weekly earnings of full-time local government workers ages 18–64 compared with those of their private-sector counterparts, controlling for education, age, hours worked, state, and year using regression analysis. Regression with additional demographic controls also adjusts for race, ethnicity, gender, and marital status.

Source: Author’s analysis of U.S. Census Bureau Current Population Survey microdata, pooled years 2015–2019; Sanes and Schmitt 2014; NBER 1988; Rueben 1996; Dippel and Sauers 2019; NCTQ 2019; NEA 2020; García and Han 2021; Frandsen and Webb 2017; McNicholas et al. 2020; Brannick 2019; and Commonwealth Foundation 2021.

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