Missouri state employee salaries lowest in nation

On average, they are paid 15.6 percent less than comparable private-sector workers.

Missouri’s state employees are paid the least, on average, of all 50 states.

A government-funded study found Missouri state employees are paid an average of 15.6 percent less than comparable private-sector workers.

Missouri’s state employees are paid less than the state employees in West Virginia, Mississippi and Arkansas, the country’s three poorest states, according to House Concurrent Resolution No. 33.

Missouri state employees have not had a pay raise since 2008, the act stated. Missouri has no comprehensive data on state compensation or total compensation.

The state government created the Joint Interim Committee on State Employee Wages in response. The committee is in charge of making Missouri's state employee wages compete with other states by looking at and creating ways to increase them, according to House Concurrent Resolution No. 33.

When the committee was first developed, its primary goal was simply to study whether Missouri paid its state employees the least amount of money. After finding Missouri had the lowest wages, the committee decided to continue operations.

“We are looking at a continuation of a committee that we started last year that will take an in-depth look at how Missouri state employees are compensated,” said Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City.

The committee — composed of three senators, three governors and four others —must now come up with ways to increase the average salaries of state employees.

The committee has until Jan. 31, 2015, to present a plan to the governor, the House Budget Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee.

One proposal is to offer all state employees a 2 percent pay increase. This would improve the average salary of 52,000 state employees from $36,477.85 to $37,207.41, according to census data. The proposed pay increase would be $729.56, on average.

Even with the proposed pay increase, Missouri would still rank last in average state employee salaries.

The committee is looking to come up with a long-term plan instead of quick fixes every once in a while, Kehoe said. This means it might be a long time before Missouri is no longer ranked 50th of the states in regard to state employee wages.

“Let’s give them a long-range plan and address the situation and get out of that 50th ranking and get to a much better place,” Kehoe said.

The Senate’s Joint Contingent Expenses appropriation funds all expenses of the Joint Interim Committee on State Employee Wages, according to the act. The source of the money for an increase in state employee wages is unknown.

The committee is not discussing legislative pay, said Dean Morgan of the Senate’s Communication Office. There is a separate citizens' group that makes salary recommendations for Missouri’s elected officials.

“We’re not discussing the legislative pay — we’re only talking about the employees of the state," said Sen. Joe Keaveny, D-St. Louis. "That hasn’t come to the scope of the discussion yet."

Both Keaveny and Kehoe said they expect the Joint Interim Committee on State Employee Wages to meet through next year.

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