CPC Study Finds Average Total Compensation For Irvine City Worker is $143,691 Per Year

CPC Study Finds Average Total Compensation For Irvine City Worker is $143,691 Per Year


Sacramento, California, April 9, 2013

Contact:  press@calpolicycenter.org

A new study published by the California Policy Center shows the average full-time employee with the City of Irvine made $143,691 in total compensation during 2012, according to records provided to the CPPC by the city’s own payroll department. The median total compensation, which means that exactly half of the employees made less than this amount, and half made more, was $133,782 during 2012.

These figures, which reflect how much employees make when the city’s payments for their direct benefits are included, stand in stark contrast to the California State Controller’s reported “average wages” for Irvine’s city employees, which is reported to be only $48,506 per year. This amount, which is restricted to base wages and includes part-time employees in the average, is unfortunately the only one that journalists often report when investigating compensation statistics for employees of California’s cities and counties.

This is the fourth such detailed analysis of local government employee compensation performed by the CPC in the past year. Along with Irvine, compensation studies have been completed for Costa MesaAnaheim, and San Jose. In all cases, the average total compensation for employees of those cities has been between $140,000 and $150,000 per year.

“It is vital for journalists, politicians and voters to fully understand the concept of total compensation,” said the study’s author, financial analyst Ed Ring. “Because base wages and salaries are only part of what workers earn. Any costs for any direct benefits provided an employee that are paid for by the employer are part of that worker’s total compensation, and this amount is the only truly meaningful measurement that can be used when comparing rates of pay in the public sector to rates of pay in the private sector.”

Also revealed in the study was the actual cost per resident and per household to pay Irvine’s city employees. The State Controller, in the standard summary they provide for each of California’s cities and counties, lists Irvine’s per capita “amount spent on total wages per resident” at $337 per year. But when you add the cost of benefits, and allocate the cost of county firefighting services since those are contracted out by the city, the actual per capita cost is nearly twice as much, $634 per year. On a more meaningful per household basis, the direct personnel costs to provide municipal services in Irvine is actually $1,649 per year. To fully fund pensions and retirement health care obligations could mean this amount will go much higher.

“Journalists have an obligation to report complete and accurate total compensation statistics for California’s full-time state and local government employees,” said the study’s author, “because it is central to any discussion of public sector finance.”

To read the entire study, click on “Irvine, California – City Employee Compensation Analysis.” Members of the media are also invited to present municipal compensation data to CPPC researchers for assistance with their analysis.

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The California Policy Center is a non-partisan public policy think tank that aspires to provide information that will elevate and enlighten the public dialogue on vital issues facing Californians, with the goal of helping to foster constructive progress towards more equitable and sustainable management of California’s public institutions. Learn more at www.CaliforniaPolicyCenter.org.

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