NYC Civil Employees’ Total Compensation Averages Six Figures

By Staff Report

Jan. 12, 2009

It pays to be an employee of the city of New York.

Firefighters earned an average of $186,464 last year in total compensation. The city’s police officers pulled in $164,045. Teachers and other school officials earned an average of $112,852, and all other workers received an average of $101,096, including salary and fringe benefits.

With a $7 billion city budget deficit looming in 2011, a report released Thursday, January 8, by nonpartisan private research group the Citizens Budget Commission highlighted how the cost of Big Apple public employees far outstrips the compensation of other public workers in the state as well as private workers.

New York City public employees cost taxpayers an average $107,000 per person in 2008, with fringe benefits such as health care and pension contributions totaling $37,600. The report, based on publicly available material from the city’s Office of Management and Budget and U.S. Labor Department statistics, says total compensation has grown 63 percent since 2000. Fringe benefits have gone up 182 percent, led by a 700 percent increase in pension costs.

Since 2000, the city’s average contribution to pensions grew to $20,333 from $2,530 for full-time employees. The growth was sparked by a recalculation of pension fund assets and lower-than-expected investment returns that showed a need for greater contributions.

The report stated that health care benefit costs had doubled since 2000. By contrast, private-sector workers’ fringe benefits increased by 40 percent and state workers’ benefits rose 52 percent since 2000.

“These skyrocketing costs are stunning,” CBC president Carol Kellermann said in a statement. “And they impose an enormous, and growing, burden on increasingly strained taxpayers. Corrective action is essential and can no longer be delayed.”

The city offers workers defined-benefit pension plans and does not require workers to contribute to health insurance premiums.

Since 2000, employee contributions toward premiums have jumped 119 percent nationally, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

While health insurance costs were the same for all employees, wages varied based on profession. Firefighters and police officers earned more because of lucrative overtime assignments.

—Jeremy Smerd

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