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Community Voices: County workers in Hawaii make highest wages in nation

County workers in the state of Hawaii make the highest wages on average in the entire nation compared to county workers in other states, according to research from the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that county workers in Hawaii make a mean average wage of $61,365 a year.

Private sector workers in Hawaii make much lower wages, at $45,266 per year, which is just below the average salary of state workers in Hawaii, at $46,319 annually.

When pension and other post-employment benefits are included, total contributions balloon to $86,712 for county workers and $68,216 for state workers.

The average of private sector worker wages and benefits in Hawaii is $55,432 annually.
When wage and benefit numbers are adjusted for Hawaii’s high cost of living, county pay drops to sixth highest in the nation, which is still well above the national average (see graph below).

Private sector wages, however, dip to the lowest in the nation when adjusted for Hawaii’s cost of living.

Keli’i Akina, President and CEO of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, said, “When adjusted for cost of living, Hawaii’s average private sector workers make the lowest wages in the entire nation. But they are the individuals supporting the wages and benefits of Hawaii’s public employees, who are making among the highest wages in the nation.”

He continued, “As all 14 public employee unions ask for higher pay and bonuses this year, lawmakers must find a solution that is affordable for everyone. Our representatives must ask themselves if increasingly generous public sector benefits are worth increased taxes, when many of Hawaii’s citizens are already struggling with low wages and high costs of living.”

When adjusted for Hawaii’s high cost of living, county worker pay drops to sixth highest in the nation, which is still higher than the national average:

When benefits are included, government salaries and benefits dwarf that of the private sector in Hawaii:

Joe Kent

Joe Kent is Vice President for Research and Development at the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, an independent non-profit research organization.

The Community Voices Column aims to encourage broad discussion on many topics of community interest. It’s kind of a cross between Letters to the Editor and op-eds. This is your space to talk about important issues or interesting people who are making a difference in our world. Columns generally run about 800 words (yes, they can be shorter or longer) and we need a photo of the author and a bio. We welcome video commentary and other multimedia formats. Send to contact (at) mauiwatch (dot) com

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