California is land to the $100k minimum wage state worker: 220,000 highly-compensated state employees cost the public $35 billion.

There is one thing to discuss the minimum wage for servers and many others that work in the low paid service industry but it is another thing to discuss “underpaid” state workers.  That statement cannot be said for California’s state employees.  In a country where the median household income is $52,000 California seems to be the land of largesse.  There is this narrative that state workers take on jobs that pay much less than the private sector but the data in California shows something very different.  In fact, there are armies of highly paid state workers.  There was a study that looked at state workers and the number of people earning six-figures is somewhat mind boggling.  Let us look at the figures.

California, land of the minimum wage $100k state worker

There was an analysis of state worker data that dramatically refutes the notion that state workers are underpaid.  If you dig deeper into the figures, what you find that this rarely applies to new younger hires that are getting grilled like many younger workers but you find older baby boomers that are simply milking the system for every penny they can get.

Take a look at the below chart:


“(Forbes) In many states, public service has little to do with serving the public and everything to do with using the public’s money to serve politicians. Whenever we open the books, California is consistently among the worst offenders. Recently, we found ‘animal collection curators’ making $110,290; city librarians earning $222,320; public utility commission bosses at $550,028; and county hospital doctors making $1.274 million.”

Keep in mind this is for salaries and does not include the future pension costs that will come from massive pension systems like those offered by CalPERs.  The fact that there are 220,000 people in the state of California that earn a minimum of $100k and cost the state $35 billion is telling.  Again, this is for one single wage earner in a country where the median household income is $52,000, or half of what a “poor” state worker is making whereas the regular US households has two working stiffs trying to cobble up $50k.

And $100k is the low range for what some are making.  Take a look at this chart:


Does this fit into the narrative of the state worker that is doing the public good and foregoing a higher salary in the private sector?  We see this in places like community colleges where some staff are locked into tenure like positions but are really not the best for the job.  Yet there is little competition to be better once they are locked in.  Now I understand tenure for people that do controversial research in labs for example but a staff worker trying to get people to register for classes?  And we are talking about tens of thousands of people.  Then we wonder why many states have massive budget issues.

“California community colleges, serving the strivers – students eating ramen noodles and working two jobs – are absolutely crushing the public pay system: 13,086 community college employees earn more than $100,000, including 178 who made more than $200,000. One of those highly compensated administrators, Thomas Fallo, retired last year after community outrage regarding his $346,895 comp plan.”

Even a graduate from an Ivy League school with massive student debt is never going to earn what some of these community college administrators is going to earn.  For now, things seem okay because the state heavily depends on the whims of the stock market and real estate and all is good on that front.  But what happens when we have our next inevitable recession?  Who would have thought that $100k minimum wages for state workers in California would be a problem.

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8 Comments on this post


  1. Sammy said:

    California is becoming the Venezuela of the US.

    December 5th, 2016 at 7:32 am
  2. JoeBogus said:

    “California is becoming the Venezuela of the US.”
    right… not
    – California is the 7th largest economy in the world.
    – it has one of the highest and stable economic growth rates of not only the US but of the world at 3.29%
    – in 2015 they create more jobs than any other state.

    and I could go on and on… and no, it’s not just the because the market and real estate are good… they bury other states in GDP.

    California does almost everything opposite of the Right’s ideology (high taxes, global warming regulations, diverse populace, etc…) yet they perform and have performed better than any red state.

    December 6th, 2016 at 7:59 am
  3. JoeBogus said:

    oh… and the article made the claim

    “There is this narrative that state workers take on jobs that pay much less than the private sector but the data in California shows something very different. ”

    was this a comparison with private sector in California only? for some reason, I highly doubt it.

    December 6th, 2016 at 8:04 am
  4. guy said:

    Must respond to Joe Bogus. Are you going to be one of the Lucky ones who gets 80 to 90 % of your income when you retire from you Cal-state job. CALPERS is already struggling to pay it’s current retirees. Where exactly to you think the money is going to come from the pay all these retirements. MORE TAXES and MORE FEES.

    Yes, we need public employees, but let’s get real what we are compensating many of these folks is just over the top and unsustainable. Do the math.

    December 9th, 2016 at 10:17 am
  5. KaD said:

    Yeah, and a few years ago Venezuela was THE richest country in South America. Now they are breaking into the zoo to eat the animals.

    Commiefornia creates more jobs-what good is a minimum wage job with no benefits these days? You’re far better off on welfare.

    December 9th, 2016 at 10:45 am
  6. wkevinw said:

    GDP per capita in CA is ~ #10-11 in the US, so it’s good but not great. It is big.

    California has the highest poverty rate when adjusted for cost of living, see US government stats, “alternative method” report.

    California’s economy is a basket case if you include the government finances. When it crashes the rest of the country will probably bail them out just like the too-big-to-fail banks.

    I lived there for 20 years, got two college degrees there, and have had family living there for more than a century. It’s not what it used to be by any stretch, and people who quote all those “7th largest economy stats” are saying things about the size of the state, not the quality of the state’s economy, for sure.

    December 11th, 2016 at 5:38 am
  7. jb said:

    this article is misleading, it claims to examine STATE workers, yet lumps in city managers, and other persons who are NOT state workers.

    December 23rd, 2016 at 9:41 am
  8. Jk said:

    The 3% @ 55 Pensions no longer exist. Most .gov pensions are closer to 2% per service years, so 2% x # of years worked. most are vested @ 10 years, most pay full medical @ 25 years of service. to get 90% pensions in my system you would have to work over 40 years.

    January 26th, 2017 at 1:08 pm


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