We compare earnings in the Alaska public and private sector labor markets from 2001 -2016.
Public sector laborers are older and more likely to be female, suggesting that taking these
differences into consideration will be important in our comparisons. We also focus on the
public-private sector earnings gaps for men and women separately, as the magnitude and even
direction of the gap depends on this distinction. We go about this in three ways: unconditional
comparisons, conditional earnings gaps, and comparing the earnings and growth
of individuals who remain with the same employer. Below are the main findings:
• The unconditional average public-private earnings gaps for men and women are of
opposing signs (see Table 1).
– Men in the public sector earn about $2,129 less in quarterly wages than men in
the private sector, on average.
– Women in the public sector earn about $498 more in quarterly wages than women
in the private sector, on average.
• On average, across all occupations, men and women have higher initial earnings in the
private sector at the beginning of a job spell.
– For men, the difference is $3113 in quarterly earnings.
– For women, the difference is $760 in quarterly earnings.
• Among workers who remain with the same employer, earnings growth is 1% and 2%
higher in the public sector for men and women, respectively.
• For men, despite the faster growth, they don’t catch up to the earnings of private
sector employees within 10 years of tenure in most occupations (See Tables 9 and 11,
and Figure 12).
• Women in the public sector earn more than their private sector counterparts within a
few years of tenure, on average.
• There is substantial heterogeneity in the earnings gap across occupations (See Tables
10 and 12, and Figure 13).
Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage
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