The Effects Of Unions On Wages By Occupation In The Public Sector

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John D. Bitzan
Bahman Bahrami


Public Sector Union Wage Premiums


This study examines union wage premiums by occupation in the public sector in the U.S. for the 2000-2004 period.  In examining union-nonunion wage differences for public sector workers in occupations accounting for 66 percent of all public workers in the 2000-2004 Current Population Survey, we find positive and statistically significant union premiums for 27 out of 41 occupations examined.  We also find large differences among occupations, with miscellaneous teachers and instructors receiving a 61 percent premium, secretaries and administrative assistants receiving a 5 percent premium, and 14 occupations receiving no statistically significant premium.  In comparing union premiums by occupation between the private and public sectors, we find, in most cases, that private sector premiums are larger than public sector premiums.  Finally, an Oaxaca decomposition shows that the majority of the differential between private sector union premiums and public sector union premiums appears to be due to differences in the way unions reward workers in the private and public sectors, not because of differences in the types of workers in the private and public sectors.


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