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OTTAWA - There is no evidence the average pay of public sector workers in Canada is consistently higher than comparable occupations in the private sector, reports a new study released today by the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

Battle of the Wages: Who gets paid more, public or private sector workers analyzes Census data at the most detailed occupational level available. By comparing average pay in comparable occupations, the study gives the most accurate snap-shot of how public sector workers pay compares to the private sector.

There is wide spread misconception that public sector workers are paid more than their private sector counterparts, and this is being used as fuel in unnecessary and unwarranted attacks on public sector jobs, wages, benefits and even the most basic rights of public sector workers,” said Paul Moist, national president of CUPE. “This report clearly dispels this myth once and for all.”

While the study shows overall average pay is similar, it also found smaller inequities between genders, age groups, regions, and top and lowest income earners in the public sector compared to the private sector.

The small overall “pay premium” of 0.5 percent for public sector workers, can be attributed entirely to a smaller pay gap for women in the public sector. On average, women employed in public sector jobs are paid 4.5 percent more than women in comparable occupations in the private sector while men in the public sector are paid an average of 5.3 per cent less.

Stronger pay equity rules have reduced the pay gap for women in the public sector,” said Toby Sanger, the study’s author.  “If public sector wages reflected the standards of the private sector, women in the public sector would be paid an average of $1,980 less per year and there would be greater disparities for others as well.  Public sector pay scales should reflect the broader values of Canadians.”

The IMF, Conference Board of Canada and the OECD have all recently raised concern that growing inequality is damaging our economic growth.  Public sector wage scales reduce income inequality, help stabilize the economy and should be a model for the private sector, with decent wages for the lowest paid and less excess at the top,” said Sanger.  

The complete report - including detailed analysis, explanation of methodology and recommendations - is available at cupe.ca.

For more information:

Greg Taylor
CUPE Media Relations